Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Communication silos and integration

It is not uncommon for a leader to have many one on one conversations with members of his/her staff but not to inform others of the contents of those conversations so that they are the only ones who have all the information. FDR was famous for this tactic. What it does is to give the leader the power of information but to leave staff in the dark. It is disempowering to staff and actually a dysfunctional way to lead (FDR notwithstanding).

Whenever any of us have conversations with other staff whether we are the leader or a staff member there must be a question asked at the end of the conversation. Who else needs to know about what we talked about? Often our conversations have implications for others and it is our responsibility to let them know of ideas being considered or decisions made or contemplated - if it will impact them.

Because information is power and because healthy leaders share rather than hoard power, we need to ensure that those who need to know are in on the conversation even if not physically present. Few things silo organizations or individuals more than siloed conversations and decisions. Not everyone needs to know everything but we need to be sensitive to what they do need to know. 

In a flat world this is everyone's responsibility, not simply the leader. I am responsible for sharing the information I have that others need. They have the same responsibility. Don't allow siloed conversations when they have implications for others. Share what you need to share. It builds trust, keeps everyone in the loop and removes unnecessary silos.

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