Communication is the Key
by Allison Muir
Recently I was given a promotion that placed me in a titled position of leadership; never before had I been in quite the same position and though I was trained and felt prepared, there was a very quick learning curve involved. Leadership is not a new topic or concept to me, but there is something different about being in a position where other workers are to directly report back on progress. In the past, I may have assumed a leadership role among colleagues, but I knew that everyone was in together equally and relied on themselves as much as the person next to them. The trust existing among peers is minute compared to the trust I am learning to have when handing off tasks; I have to trust myself that I have laid out things clearly and I must trust those following my instructions to succeed. I have always been the person who took on more work in a group because I wanted everything to be done correctly, but now I am expected to trust others to complete the tasks I have identified; this was not easy at first.
Now, more accustomed to my role, I have realized that the structure at work is not as complicated and different as I had originally thought. Leadership is dependent on other people and therefore relationships, but relationships are built on trust and communication — two things vital to an efficient workplace. This realization opened my eyes to the leaders in my life and my perceptions of them. Those that I felt cared about me as a person and a worker were the leaders I found myself respecting and following more. While those who only spoke to me about a task in the moment were the leaders with whom I often felt frustrated and disinterested. But what could I do to become an involved and respected leader?
When I put effort into learning more about those reporting to me beyond their names, I realized that communication really was the key. If I could relate to them, I could adapt my instructions in such a way that was clearer and trust that they understood and followed such direction. The trust I so desired began to develop seamlessly when I focused more on my communication and the people actually in front of me. Of course, I have no way of knowing for sure, but I’d like to think that I’m not one of the annoying supervisors like those I dislike. There will always be room to grow and progress as I continue in this position, but I feel much more prepared to train others and delegate tasks. I once wondered why this lesson wasn’t included in my training, but I think it’s because communication can’t be taught. Trust is earned — and in my case not given out lightly — but it cannot be generated and expected without an established and strong foundation. The communication that is developing will strengthen the relationships being built, mold the mutual trust, and aid in my goal to become a better leader.