25 January 2011 - Realise2 Strengths Dynamics #2
A lot of Capp's work is concerned with how strengths can be used to deliver positive change for people in organisations. Given the myriad challenges of change that we all face, this is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is the multiple ways in which different strengths can combine to influence communication and the outcomes of communication. In this Strengths Dynamic, we'll look at some examples of this and explore the implications for what it means in practice.
Catalyst and Change Agent are great strengths to have if you are leading a change initiative. How you communicate that change, though, will vary according to the communication strengths that you have. I've been fortunate enough to work with people across the spectrum, and I'm pleased to share below some examples of what happens when you combine just one different communication strength with these two strengths of change and motivation.
Catalyst, Change Agent and Spotlight: This might be considered typical of the organisational leadership role as an advocate of change. The great leader who stands astride the stage at the town hall meeting or the global corporate conference, captivating the attention of the audience, and holding them in the palm of their hand. While Spotlight is about being able to command people's attention, combine it with Narrator as well, and you have a ready-made mechanism for how the story of change is told. People who use their Narrator in this way will craft a narrative that weaves together the elements of the change journey, helping people to see their part in it and what they will need to do differently as a result. The great orators and change advocates of our time - people like Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama - have all combined this ability to inspire and catalyse change in others, doing so through being able to hold our attention and create a compelling narrative about what our future can look like. In the change literature itself, this is the domain of the legendary John Kotter.
Catalyst, Change Agent and Explainer: Extending our organisational change metaphor further, the middle manager role can be seen as the critical enabler and Explainer of change. Once the change has been communicated from the senior leadership, in a typical cascade approach, the next step is for middle managers to communicate and reinforce this message on the ground, through day-to-day decisions and behaviours. In doing so, they crucially need to be able to explain the change, to continue to repeat the story, to reinforce the message, to find different ways to reach out to people and engage them in the new world of the future. Without this Explainer strength being deployed, people can be left inspired but not know what to do. Explainers break things down into the simple elements, finding alternative ways to present the information so that everyone ultimately is able to understand, to engage and to play their part in the change as a result.
Catalyst, Change Agent and Scribe: Another way in which we can convey the messages we want people to hear is through how and what we write. People strong in Scribe are well-placed to do this through using their ability to write in a way that engages others and gives pleasure through the written word. The strength of Scribe, when combined with Catalyst and Change Agent, can be seen in people who use the power of the written word to advocate for and inspire the change they want to see - for example, Beverley Naidoo on apartheid, Germaine Greer on gender equality, or Gary Hamel on management innovation. With this combination of strengths, the dynamics are communicated through the written word rather than on the stage or face-to-face - and as a result, the written word can be used to reach a wider audience over a more sustained period of time.
Importantly, there is no one right or wrong answer about the best way to communicate about change, or indeed the "perfect" combination of strengths that allow you to do so. We all have our own strengths from which we can draw to achieve what it is important to us. What I have tried to highlight here, however, is how changing just one (communication) strength in a dynamic of three or four can have profound impacts on how we engage with the audiences we want to inspire.
We should also keep in mind that different people have different communication preferences. Especially in this world of social media, remote working and telecommuting, remember that we are all still social animals. This being so, many of us still have a need for the face-to-face human connection that is instantly lost through instant messenger, SMS or email. Equally, the facilities of video-conferencing and webinars also allow us to connect with others over distant geographies in a way that a decade ago we might only have dreamed about.
So, whatever your communication strengths and preferences, and whatever the message that you are trying to inspire in others, remember that communication is ultimately about the interface of what you want to say and how others want to receive it. With so many possible strengths permutations that influence this, it's no wonder we often need to spend some time on getting it right. Fortunately, there are plenty of stories of success that can guide and inspire us as we go about doing so.
With best wishes,
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 323 363
Fax:+44 (0) 2476 323 001
| Privacy Statement
© Capp & Co 2013 All Rights Reserved