Perhaps you've seen it before. A public figure is interviewed by the media. After eloquently stating and restating her position, despite the reporters efforts to pound out more details, she relaxes and speaks her mind! Thinking that the microphone is off, she races through a litany of obscenities to share her disapproval of the interviewer and it's all captured for the world to hear because the microphone is on. If you're a manager or an executive there is a lesson here for you. You have the microphone and it is always on!
As a positional leader within your organization, people are always watching and listening to you. You may be tempted to think that an after-hours conversation with a rising star is just "small talk about the future". If you believe you can have conversations like you're just another person on the team and it not affect your organizations culture you are wrong.
While you may want to let your guard down to let off steam or you may want to share just a little insight with someone about the big plans you've been thinking about, remember, your microphone is always on. You aren't afforded the luxury of "just brainstorming" when your the leader. You gave that up when you stepped out of an individual contributor role and took on the responsibility of manager or executive. You're always the leader and when you speak people listen with a filter. "How does this affect me, the department, the company and what should I be considering and working towards as a result?" Your microphone is always on!
Your team is continuously seeking feedback from you on key areas. So much so that even your innocent conversations (read dreams here!) can direct their future actions, beliefs, and understandings of where the organization is headed. All without you ever knowing it's happened. What's worse, if you're inconsistent with the messages you send, because they change depending on whom your with, it's double-trouble. Now, you're creating significant uncertainty among the team. No one knows who you are and they start to doubt what to expect from you. You think they aren't sharing with each other? Think again. Remember, your microphone is always on.
Maybe you're reading this and you're aware now of the problems you've created by over-sharing. I've made that mistake in the past, too. I can help you increase your leadership ability in this area because I've walked the road of transformation that's necessary to see change. Schedule your free strategy session here.
I had to learn the hard way that productivity as a manager and executive don't come from your technical skills. If you believe it does, then you're going to over-share. You'll do it because you'll think you know more than others and you'll think your helping by getting in everyone's business. You're not helping when you do this, so stop and take a different approach.
You want to get your team involved and you want to make a significant contribution to the organization yourself. What worked when your weren't a manager isn't going to work now that you are. It's time to change. Your productivity is going to come from your leadership ability, not your exceptional technical skills, from this point forward. Here are tips you can use to avoid over-sharing and compromising your leadership effectiveness.
I'd like to hear from you. Have you ever forgotten that your microphone is always on? What's was the outcome and what did you learn as a result?
W. Shane McKenzie is an executive coach and leadership mentor who helps leaders achieve greater effectiveness and become more fulfilled in their work by facilitating positive changes in their leadership behaviors. Join the Leadership Transformation Roundtable to get your copy of the questionnaire I use to discover how close my intentions match the reality of those I lead.
What others are saying about W. Shane McKenzie
"I would recommend Shane’s coaching to any leader. He has a refined process that allows leaders to see things in themselves that they might not be able to see otherwise."- Mel Munoz, Physical Therapist Assistant and Grad Student
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W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.