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"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
Robert F. Kennedy

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Good evening from AC 299 Winnipeg to Vancouver, I trust this finds each one of you in fine spirits. I am looking out of the window at a most spectacular sunset, the light skimming across the snowcapped mountains with small clouds covering just the peaks as we descend towards sea level. It is moments like this that almost make up for the hours I seem to spend in the air!

I'm returning from leading a session at a national conference for credit union leaders. In my session, and one other that I attended, we spoke about behavioural competencies.
 
Now, I am  always curious about what people mean when they use the word "communication" in their description of a desired behavioural skill. It sems so broad as to be almost unhelpful; how many employee engagement survey results show a need to improve "communication" as the number one issue for the organization?

Well, as luck would have it, I am reading a fascinating study from December of '09 published by the Psychometrics group (www.psychometrics.com) looking at "leadership." The results are interesting; a weighted score of 4.9 where 4 = very important and 5 = critically important, for the competency "communication!" And most interesting to me was a subsequent question; 'what could leaders do to communicate more effectivley? 81.4% of the respondents said listen more and talk less, and 75.6 % said more informal interaction with staff (casual conversations etc.)

It seems then, that if we want to improve our comunication as leaders, to put it bluntly, we need to shut up and lighten up! I like to say that in any encounter or conversation between a leader and a follower, the leader's airtime or talk time should be < 40%. What I'm seeing in this data, is that we also need to drop the number of "meetings" and increase the number of "conversations."

I hope for all of us tha we find more time to listen, and to be in conversation with the people with whom we work, and those two shifts may well dramatically improve our workplaces.