As businesses begin to reopen, leaders are facing challenges they’ve never faced before. It’s an excellent opportunity to lean into your communication style, focus on engagement, and reclaim your team culture, which may have been disrupted in the COVID-19 pandemic. In Episode 90 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we share how leaders can be mindful of their communication and avoid the Intention/Perception Gap (what happens when communication is perceived in a way that’s not how you intended).

To further develop your leadership skill set and positively enhance your team’s culture, consider Executive Coaching with The John Maxwell Company.

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Read Transcript Below:

Hello, and welcome to The John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast. As America is trying to reopen, we are still recording from our respective home studios and we are still focused on increasing your ability to fully engage your teams in these very trying times uncertainty bounce. I’m Perry Holley a  John Maxwell facilitator and coach and as always, I’m joined in this in our technological hookups here with my friend and colleague, Chris Goede is the John Maxwell Vice President.  Chris, how’s everything in the bunker today? 

It is going well and talking about reopening. We are in the throes of it and so looking forward to even just having this conversation today because we’re living it out. We are dealing with the excitement but also the opportunities for growth when it comes to my leadership and our leadership and doing this. And so, I know you’re still relaxing at home. I’m grateful that today you decided to move from the top level of your house down into your actual office. I am in my actual office because I ditch the zoom background and that you can now see my pride in my life, really my library? Yeah, and I’m surprised you haven’t commented on the pink shirt that’s alive today. 

I didn’t want to do that to you privately. What I do love about your background we were talking a little bit about this is just a proof of you being a product of the product. You know, you’re an avid learner and consumer and often share a lot of things that you’re learning and books that I need to be reading and that’s proof of it right there. And that’s the actual books, right like your audible library is quadruple that so yeah, I’ve got me trying to transition all that to my iPad so they can carry them all with me when I travel, but since we’re not traveling, these are my babies. Right? Love it. Love it. Alright, listen, we are excited to be with you. I think, you know, in the reopening of businesses, it’s a great opportunity for us as leaders, we’re going to be able to impress the people that we’re leaving for a long time to come as long as we go about it the right way. And especially since there’s so much uncertainty, not only in leadership but in everybody’s businesses, because not everybody’s businesses are succeeding right now. And that just goes down into individuals having roles where they’re concerned, and I know you have had conversations like that with some of your team, I’ve been having some conversations and so we really got to focus on how we communicate. And when we do that, it’s not just our perception of how we communicate. It’s our team’s perception. It’s those that we have influence with and how do they receive That. And there’s a gap there. In essence, this is where it’s really coming from, you know, I love the title you came up with. I’ll share that just in a minute where we’re going today. It really kind of got stuck in my mind from one of our executive facilitators and coaches Greg Cagle talked about it back when we talked about discovering your authentic leadership style, which is a great course that we do for leadership teams. And we’re doing it virtually we do it on-site, we coach through some different behavioral assessments. And so if you’re interested, obviously, we always tell you about the learning learners guide that Perry created for today. nd in digital format, even when I just talked about discovering your authentic leadership style, or if you just have a thought or question about what we’re going to talk about today, man, go to JohnMaxwellcompany.com/podcast and you can inquire about that information right there and parent I’ll get back to you. Whatever it is, well, so today’s topic, even just talking about what kind of lead into this is

Avoiding the intention versus perception gap as we’re reopening, like, let’s get specific and talk about the fact that we are reopening. And we’re going to be dealing with challenges that we’ve never been faced with before. There’s not a handbook for this, right? There’s something new to us. And so we got to be really aware of it from a communication standpoint and a leadership standpoint of what we call the IP gap, the intention versus perception gap. So you heard kind of my initial thoughts pay is that what are you thinking about? Because you are the one that comes up with titles for us. Talk to us a little bit about where you were thinking and what you know, what’s your hearing that led you to this? 

Yeah, you’re all over it. And as I talk to leaders, especially in our coaching business, this is such an unprecedented time where it’s kind of new, everybody’s affected. It wasn’t just one group or one company or one industry. It’s everyone, but it is. Thankfully we’re beginning to reopen and not just in North America, but around the world. And it’s a fantastic opportunity for leaders to really lean into their communication style. I also think we talk a lot here about engagement and employee engagement. What a fantastic time for people to disengage. Matter of fact, they probably have been a little disengaged by being at home or being distracted or being away. And there’s been so much in the news, so much going on, that you can pay attention to, besides our mission to serve our clients. But now it’s time to come back and some are going to come back faster than others and some are going to want to come back and some are not. There’s all kinds of issues and your communication, I think, can either add to or detract from the level of engagement that you’re going to see coming back from folks. Actually, in a future podcast, we’re going to talk about how you reclaim that culture that you had that was kind of disrupted as well. So yeah, looking at how you intend to say is one thing, how it was perceived by the people on your team, individuals or groups is quite something else. And so that’s what I really wanted to look at today. 

I love it. I think it’s so relevant, it falls directly under what we talked about in regards to Level 2, influence and leadership. You know, everything that we do is built off that model that John built 5 Levels. And it’s a great roadmap. It’s a very simple roadmap for you to understand as a leader. And if you don’t get this right, coming out of as we reopen, this is the foundation level to influence leadership. This is the foundation for everything that you will build going forward because things are different things gonna change. I think we’d like to say the new now versus the new normal, it’s what we’re dealing with now. It’ll be different six months and 12 months but this is absolutely the foundation. So let’s dive in. You came up with five questions for us really to be kind of asking ourselves and to be looking at as we do reopen just to my encouragement to you today as we work through this is just to write these five questions down, and begin to ask yourself these questions over the next week or two, just to keep it in front of you. And the first question, which is very relevant to even just making sure you’re keeping this in front of you. Is, am I Oh, it’s about awareness. Am I aware, Right, of others’ perspectives of my communication? Do I know how it’s been received? And kind of another and this awareness question that we’re starting off with? Am I others aware of how people are feeling and viewing as we reopen? we’ve said before on this podcast, you know, what’s it look like to be on the other side of your leadership? Hey, and this is what you’re saying here, which is, am I aware of how others are actually seeing my communication? Am I also aware of how they’re dealing with it? I’ll tell you this before I throw it to you at some of your thoughts on this, I think this is so huge because leaders were under a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, we still have KPIs they may be drastically different than year over year numbers and or even what your 2020 budget was. And so you sometimes will come in with blinders on and get into a hole and you’re trying to go into Level 3 production mode. And the way that you may be communicating will come across insensitive, they don’t understand where I’m coming from. And it’s going to affect your team in a great way and how they respond to you and your leadership during this time.

And I think a lot of us speak for me when I was really a Level 1 leader positional leadership. I’m the boss you’re not, I don’t really care how you see me just do what I tell you to do. And total disengagement of buy-in people is not motivated or driven positively by that at all to go to that level to start thinking about how people see me, you know, and I, so much of communication is nonverbal. And I’m wondering, you know, now I need to pay attention to how I am received, because the message can be diluted or even missed completely. If, if I’m not really aware of how others see me and how they are hearing me, and where they are coming from right now that’s the biggest piece of this is stop assuming that everybody sees it the way I do. And that everybody’s got a unique position on this, how the level of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, confidence, whatever actually put in our notes, we were talking about that one thing I, I thought people would see me as a confident leader, and somebody told me one day that they thought I was arrogant. Well, I am confident. They got arrogant, so I’m gonna be this quiet, thoughtful type and they thought I was indecisive about what they liked. The final one was as I want to be that sensitive, caring leader, and they somebody told me, I think you’re needy. Okay, there’s definitely a gap. So how am I doing that? So I really want to ask this first question: am I aware of my communication style? The nonverbals I’m sending How do people see me? Because it’s going to help shrink that gap a bit. 

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I agree. Yeah. Before I throw it to you for number two, you know, one of the things that I was thinking about what you’re saying that was, in order for you truly to know this, I think there are really two things that you should be, you should be very interested in, is right now at this Thomas leader. How are they wired? Right? What is their behavioral style? Do you understand that? Because at the end of the day, if you don’t you need to go study them. You need to study their report, right? And then the other The second thing I thought it was, you just got to ask the question, you got to be willing to ask that question of your people and set it up in a way where they feel comfortable being honest and candid with you in order to truly kind of figure out where that is, 

Right Well, you’re at Level 2, if you’re really deep in Level 2 and connecting with people in generating by and they start to know who you really are, and you can let down your guard and we use the word vulnerability or authenticity. And a lot of these misperceptions can go away. It’s when they don’t really know us that well, when we don’t let down our guard that they begin to think that Oh, you weren’t even affected by this virus thing. Like we were? Well, no, we just talked about that in perspective principles, that the adversity and crisis really is a time for leaders to be more relatable to their people because we were all affected. You know, Question two, I took this straight from John’s teaching about, you know, and your communication people can generally tell, are you manipulating me, or are you trying to motivate me and I find that the gap has really expanded because people know you can probably speak a lot to this from being with John’s for many years. But if I’m manipulating I’m trying to get something for me. And I’m it’s a, it’s a hurry hustle world, we’re kind of behind because of what’s happened we’re trying to catch up, there’s a lot going on, I just kind of skip right to the, to the meat of the message and take away a lot of the connecting pieces of it. And that feels manipulative, like you’re trying to just get something to make yourself look better versus motivating. It is not about you, the leader, it’s about the team. 

Yeah, you mentioned a word early on in our intro just about engagement, right? And I will tell you this. There’s a fine line between what we call manipulation and influence. And that’s your motive behind why you’re doing what you’re doing. And what you’re saying to your team and how you’re saying it. And so, you need to make sure that you check yourself, check your motive. And I but I will tell you this, I think one of the best things you can do as a leader in this moment, to make sure that they feel like it’s coming across and they know truly that’s motivating and not manipulative Is is really talked about how do I communicate the purpose of what we’re doing? The purpose of what they are doing, right in their individual roles and roles? And how is the brand that you’re working for now is that attributed to the common good right now? How is that adding value to people’s lives for us, right, our number one or number one values that add value to leaders that are, you know, multiplying. And so for us, everything that we’ve done during this process, we have tried to communicate and to motivate in a way that’s about adding value to people. And even if it comes at the cost of $1. That’s irrelevant to us right now. It’s really about adding value to people. So I think as you think about this, number one, just check your motive behind how you’re about what you’re communicating and how you’ve communicated. And then secondly I think to engage them. Right now during this time, you have to have a strong gut and a strong motivating story, an authentic story that’s tied to your purpose about how it is helping other people. It’s helping the common good. 

I also find it slows down a building leaving space for people not only to receive it but to question and so ask for questions and find out like you’re saying, Where are people coming from? And I only if I missed one way, I’m in a hurry. It can be manipulative, but I want to be motivating. I want to re engage you and get us back into the swing. But there’s a lot of dynamics going on. You may have questions, you may have had concerns, you may have some fears. And so I want to be sure that those have a chance to get on the table. 

I want to ask you about number three because it’s another one that John taught us and I’d love to get your perspective on that. As I just wrote, the question would be, am I competing or competing in my communications? And I think we all know you’ve been married for more than an hour, you know that if you are trying to be right or to win in any conversation, it’s a loss on that. So, you know, are you trying to help me and show you care and build trust with me? Or is there something else going on here? Are you competing with me? So give me your thoughts on that one. 

Yeah. I have been married longer to an awesome, incredible leader herself, but we did have a conversation about that. I think the biggest thing for me when you ask this question that really came across was the word collaboration. For me, I think not only do we as leaders right now need to be aware of collaborating and understanding the struggles of our customers and those that we serve and those that we partner with, but we also need to be doing it in a way that where our team feel like we’re helping them complete them themselves, their role to the best that they can potentially be. Now, listen, that comes right where it’s another fine line where you form a collaboration. At the end of the day leaders, you’re compensated to make the decision and move the ball forward. And you got to it’s not by a committee that you’re making decisions at all times. But you have to make sure what I tell my team all the time in regards to how we’re working with our customers and our partners right now is like, Listen, you have to understand their voices. Okay? They will buy into where we ended up going. Right? They will get along with where you’re going. It’s so when you think about your team, if you just allow them to have a conversation, your collaborative about kind of what we were just talking about even number two, the second question if you will allow them to do that. They will feel like you are completing them and where you’re trying to take the organization to move to reopen, things are going to be different. We have to innovate. Look what we’re doing right here. We’re grateful for those that are putting up with all the less than the best quality of audio and even get to look at us in that pink shirt. And I do have a blue one on by the way. But you know, embrace reinvention, all those things that come with what you’re going to be dealing with as a leader. We’re going to have to make sure that we’re doing it in a way with collaboration that feels like we are completing them as one, not necessarily just competing against where their agenda is, where they thought where they’re scared, scared, where their fears are, where they are, like all those questions that come with it that we deal with ourselves as well. 

Yeah. What leads into question four was just a continuation of that other lesson that John has taught and I This one really affected me big time. The question was, am I balancing care with candor? And as I’ll just give you the overview of that, is it care if it’s all care, which we want to be caring Level 2 caring leaders.  That’s great. But that’s all care and no candor, no straight talk, then it’s a little bit dysfunctional because there’s no situation that it’s all good. But you’re all straight talk all candor, and no care, the neck can become distant. People don’t want to be around a leader like that. And I just noticed as we’re communicating, going back to our topic, we’re trying to reduce the gap between what I intend and what they perceive. I think adding this balance to me really made a lot of sense. This one really resonates with me. 

I agree. Yeah. Before I throw it to you for number two, you know, one of the things that I was thinking about what you’re saying that was, in order for you truly to know this, I think there are really two things that you should be, you should be very interested in, is right now at this Thomas leader. How are they wired? Right? What is their behavioral style? Do you understand that? Because at the end of the day, if you don’t you need to go study them. You need to study their report, right? And then the other The second thing I thought it was, you just got to ask the question, you got to be willing to ask that question of your people and set it up in a way where they feel comfortable being honest and candid with you in order to truly kind of figure out where that is, 

Right Well, you’re at Level 2, if you’re really deep in Level 2 and connecting with people in generating by and they start to know who you really are, and you can let down your guard and we use the word vulnerability or authenticity. And a lot of these misperceptions can go away. It’s when they don’t really know us that well, when we don’t let down our guard that they begin to think that Oh, you weren’t even affected by this virus thing. Like we were? Well, no, we just talked about that in perspective principles, that the adversity and crisis really is a time for leaders to be more relatable to their people because we were all affected. You know, Question two, I took this straight from John’s teaching about, you know, and your communication people can generally tell, are you manipulating me, or are you trying to motivate me and I find that the gap has really expanded because people know you can probably speak a lot to this from being with John’s for many years. But if I’m manipulating I’m trying to get something for me. And I’m it’s a, it’s a hurry hustle world, we’re kind of behind because of what’s happened we’re trying to catch up, there’s a lot going on, I just kind of skip right to the, to the meat of the message and take away a lot of the connecting pieces of it. And that feels manipulative, like you’re trying to just get something to make yourself look better versus motivating. It is not about you, the leader, it’s about the team. 

Yeah, you mentioned a word early on in our intro just about engagement, right? And I will tell you this. There’s a fine line between what we call manipulation and influence. And that’s your motive behind why you’re doing what you’re doing. And what you’re saying to your team and how you’re saying it. And so, you need to make sure that you check yourself, check your motive. And I but I will tell you this, I think one of the best things you can do as a leader in this moment, to make sure that they feel like it’s coming across and they know truly that’s motivating and not manipulative Is is really talked about how do I communicate the purpose of what we’re doing? The purpose of what they are doing, right in their individual roles and roles? And how is the brand that you’re working for now is that attributed to the common good right now? How is that adding value to people’s lives for us, right, our number one or number one values that add value to leaders that are, you know, multiplying. And so for us, everything that we’ve done during this process, we have tried to communicate and to motivate in a way that’s about adding value to people. And even if it comes at the cost of $1. That’s irrelevant to us right now. It’s really about adding value to people. So I think as you think about this, number one, just check your motive behind how you’re about what you’re communicating and how you’ve communicated. And then secondly I think to engage them. Right now during this time, you have to have a strong gut and a strong motivating story, an authentic story that’s tied to your purpose about how it is helping other people. It’s helping the common good. 

I also find it slows down a building leaving space for people not only to receive it but to question and so ask for questions and find out like you’re saying, Where are people coming from? And I only if I missed one way, I’m in a hurry. It can be manipulative, but I want to be motivating. I want to re engage you and get us back into the swing. But there’s a lot of dynamics going on. You may have questions, you may have had concerns, you may have some fears. And so I want to be sure that those have a chance to get on the table. 

I want to ask you about number three because it’s another one that John taught us and I’d love to get your perspective on that. As I just wrote, the question would be, am I competing or competing in my communications? And I think we all know you’ve been married for more than an hour, you know that if you are trying to be right or to win in any conversation, it’s a loss on that. So, you know, are you trying to help me and show you care and build trust with me? Or is there something else going on here? Are you competing with me? So give me your thoughts on that one. 

Yeah. I have been married longer to an awesome, incredible leader herself, but we did have a conversation about that. I think the biggest thing for me when you ask this question that really came across was the word collaboration. For me, I think not only do we as leaders right now need to be aware of collaborating and understanding the struggles of our customers and those that we serve and those that we partner with, but we also need to be doing it in a way that where our team feel like we’re helping them complete them themselves, their role to the best that they can potentially be. Now, listen, that comes right where it’s another fine line where you form a collaboration. At the end of the day leaders, you’re compensated to make the decision and move the ball forward. And you got to it’s not by a committee that you’re making decisions at all times. But you have to make sure what I tell my team all the time in regards to how we’re working with our customers and our partners right now is like, Listen, you have to understand their voices. Okay? They will buy into where we ended up going. Right? They will get along with where you’re going. It’s so when you think about your team, if you just allow them to have a conversation, your collaborative about kind of what we were just talking about even number two, the second question if you will allow them to do that. They will feel like you are completing them and where you’re trying to take the organization to move to reopen, things are going to be different. We have to innovate. Look what we’re doing right here. We’re grateful for those that are putting up with all the less than the best quality of audio and even get to look at us in that pink shirt. And I do have a blue one on by the way. But you know, embrace reinvention, all those things that come with what you’re going to be dealing with as a leader. We’re going to have to make sure that we’re doing it in a way with collaboration that feels like we are completing them as one, not necessarily just competing against where their agenda is, where they thought where they’re scared, scared, where their fears are, where they are, like all those questions that come with it that we deal with ourselves as well. 

Yeah. What leads into question four was just a continuation of that other lesson that John has taught and I This one really affected me big time. The question was, am I balancing care with candor? And as I’ll just give you the overview of that, is it care if it’s all care, which we want to be caring Level 2 caring leaders.  That’s great. But that’s all care and no candor, no straight talk, then it’s a little bit dysfunctional because there’s no situation that it’s all good. But you’re all straight talk all candor, and no care, the neck can become distant. People don’t want to be around a leader like that. And I just noticed as we’re communicating, going back to our topic, we’re trying to reduce the gap between what I intend and what they perceive. I think adding this balance to me really made a lot of sense. This one really resonates with me. 

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We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.

We discuss five questions to help you equip and empower your team to think and act like change agents.