At this point I assume we all have seen the episode of Silicon Valley where Gavin says “the bear is sticky with honey”. While I found that entire plot line (?) incredibly funny, it also made me think about the way that we as leaders sometimes offer information to the people we lead.
When we “just share” things
Every leader I’ve had over the years, and I myself early on, would send pieces of content completely free of context. It would get forwarded without comment in an email, or dropped into a messaging app or social channel with a blithe “I’m just going to leave this here”. While I was always sharing it with the intention of letting other people come to their own conclusions, there was a point in my career when people started to feel like I was inviting them to a high-stress exercise in mind reading.
Context-free sharing of anything assumes that everything between you and the recipient is identical: the same frame of reference, values, and requisite information. I have found that, especially when I want team members to come to their own conclusions, I owe it to them to give them some concept of what made this worth their time in the first place.
Offer with highlights
So, I’ve stopped “just sharing” and instead offer content that’s relevant to current or past conversations and highlight why I found it relevant.
- “I read this article when I first went from leading one team to leading three, and it helped me get my bearings.”
- “You mentioned you’re struggling with delegation. That’s a learned skill, and here is a quote that unlocked a new way of thinking about it for me.”
- “This study focuses on lightweight ways to get user feedback. I thought it might be useful as we talk through how to tighten feedback loops.”
That doesn’t force a perspective. It makes it clear why you think it’s valuable to them, what area of focus it’s in, and ultimately makes it clear that you see their time is precious.
What methods do you use to help lead in lean times? Anything that helps rebalance the signal:noise ratio?