A Response, Even if it’s not an Answer…

average response time being responsive as a leader communication leadership leadership communication leadership responsibility value in leadership values what does responsiveness mean Dec 07, 2022
value in leadership

One of the most valuable things Cindy and I have been able to do through our Emerging Leader Development program has been reading the immediate action steps that participants detail following each lesson. Seeing how individuals with varying levels of leadership responsibility absorb then apply what we share in that course, whether they’re working toward their first supervisory role or they’ve been leading a large organization for years, has been nothing short of amazing! Recently, a participant in the digital version of the course shared this explaining what tangible return on investment they’re hoping to achieve from an action step they’re working to implement:

“Being relatively new to the role (6 months), I've found I feel the need to always have an answer, which is driven by insecurity in a new role driven by knowledgebase, as well as a new type of role I'm less familiar with. If I'm able to increase my confidence through being better at holding up to criticism, I'll be much better relationally with those I work with, which will notably improve the results of the service (through relationship driven collaboration by accepting I don't always need the answer if someone else has it).”

While this individual has held numerous management positions throughout their career, this new role has no position authority and will require a very different approach. The part that stuck out to me most was the acknowledgement that they didn’t have to have all the answers - but they would still need to respond, even if the answer they provide comes from someone else!

As a quick side note, we have just six of the sixteen total spots in our next public Emerging Leader Development session in the Harrisonburg area that’s scheduled for January 13 & 27. Prior to this past July, we hadn’t offered this publicly and we’ve been thrilled to see how much value organizations have gotten from being able to send just two or three folks!

As we think about the importance of A Leader’s Response, don’t get caught up thinking you have to wait until you have the right answer before you can offer a reply. The leaders I’ve worked with over the years who made me feel valued most weren’t necessarily the ones who had all the right answers but they were definitely the ones who made sure I knew they were paying attention. These leaders were very intentional about acknowledging my questions or concerns, even when they didn’t have an answer, and they were very proactive in letting me know that they’d be back in touch as soon as they could provide more feedback!

And make no mistake, this doesn’t just apply to issues or questions. If we, as leaders, want to be clear in showing who and what we value, we need to be sure the folks counting on us know we’re engaged in what they have going on at all times. The easiest and surest way I’ve found for doing this is by being responsive as a leader!

I can’t speak for you, but I’d rather be told no a hundred times than not hear back at all. To that end, I’ve often joked that I’d respect a kick in the shins more than I respect not receiving a reply at all. To me, a no reply reply tells me that the individual places no value whatsoever on me or the relationship they have with me. As a leader, I can’t think of a single scenario where that’s a message I’d want to send someone - even if it is just their perception!

But rest easy, I believe there’s something we can do to make sure that’s not the message we send so we’ll look at that next…