Sometimes the message isn’t obvious until it comes with an unpleasant surprise, like the time Ug crawled out of his cave and used his club to express his displeasure upon finding last night’s leftovers being gnawed by a passing primate. If you had been that passing primate, you might have preferred a bit of explanation and avoided that unpleasant rap on the skull. It seems that some of today’s cultural norms leave us in the dark, too, and often we don’t like what that produces.
Take, for example, the invitation to, “Call me and we’ll set a date to meet.” In today’s over-busy world, it’s so easy to let that call go to voice mail or to let an email sit unattended.
But what if that incoming call or email is from someone who looks to you for leadership? What is your message to them when you don’t return several of their voice mails or emails and especially if you had requested their contact? Sure, you’re busy and perhaps this one is less urgent than some other things.
Still, your silence is sending a message to followers and it isn’t good. To them it’s a message that they just aren’t important enough to you and that you really don’t respect them all that much. And that pulls the rug out from under their engagement, their commitment and their loyalty. All of those are fragile things that you can damage with just one blow-off.
If you are to be the best leader you can be and produce the best, most engaged followers, then today’s cultural norm of failing to respond (because “they’ll get the message, sooner or later”) is not an option. If no is your answer, then say so. If yes is your answer, let them know. Pick up the phone or respond to the email right away. The people who look to you for leadership will feel your respect and they will have avoided that nasty rap on the skull. Then only the best things will happen, like everyone getting more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.
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