Wednesday, 11 December 2019
A key function of any leader, in fact one of the key measures that differentiate a good from a great leader, is their ability to translate.
I am not referring to an ability to speak foreign languages. Rather I am talking about the process in which the needs of the client are communicated to those responsible for implementing a solution.
This process takes place on multiple levels every day and the better that those interactions take place, the more likely that the results will be positive.
Here are some examples that demonstrate the point.
1. A CEO meets with a major client. That client expresses, in their internal language, their needs. The CEO must then translate that need back into his/her organization’s language to affect a solution.
2. A mid-level manager meets with team members to discuss their needs in order to perform their duties more efficiently. That manager must then translate those needs into a language understood at the executive level in order to get funds allocated or policies changed that allow for the maximization of potential.
3. A purchasing manager meets with a potential supplier. The purpose is to source specific products for the company. If the purchaser cannot translate company needs into a language clearly understood by the supplier, there may be a disconnect between need and solution.
Each of these examples illustrate that being an effective communicator requires translation skills to advance the conversation. Everyone in leadership roles must be constantly aware that we don’t all speak the same language even when it is the same tongue.
Failure to interpret needs properly invariably leads to failure in outcome. The best leaders know this and constantly hone this skill. Poor leaders miss the point and struggle to understand why their best efforts continue to come up short.