I recently asked acoustics expert David Greenberg what the greatest concert hall is. He quickly replied, “For what?” He went on to explain that different venues are better for certain types of performances.
When you think about the best way to communicate with your team, ask yourself, “To do what?” Concert halls designed to accommodate every type of performance become mediocre for each. Similarly, leaders must abandon homogeneous communication strategies. In order to communicate effectively with team members unite them around your vision, analyze the purpose, constraints and potential solutions related to your team.
Greenberg is president of Westport, Conn.-based acoustics consultancy Creative Acoustics, LLC. He explained to me that different venues are better for small group recitals than for large orchestras, or opera, or theater or other performance types. Sparing you the technical details, it has to do with both direct and reflected sounds, balance and reverberance.
According to Greenberg:
"At a certain point it became clear that multi-purpose spaces would need to go from no-purpose (where a single acoustic setting meant a compromise to every use) to truly multi-purpose where significant and ideally simple and quick changes could be made to form a room setting favoring theatre to one required by symphony, or opera or film or dance or…"
A leader’s communication strategy varies depending upon a team’s purpose, strategy and posture. Communication with teams possessing dominant market positions will likely be more formal, systematic and direct, in line with the discipline required to maintain that top position. Conversely, teams playing niches or creating completely new things will be better served by a more informal, adaptive and reflective approach.
The constraints inherent in making truly multi-purpose venues are substantial. One must consider regulations and code requirements, in addition to basic needs like lighting angles, temperature, sightlines, aesthetics and budget.
One major constraint for leaders will be the organization and community environment in which teams operate. Team communication nests within accepted norms. But those create an all-purpose/no-purpose hall that, almost by definition, is a compromise.
The answer to creating an effective multi-purpose venue is found in flexible components like orchestra shells, and adjustable sound-absorbing materiel deployed when needed and stored when not, creating different sound boxes as appropriate. David makes the point that the sound has to be right for both the audience and the performers.
"Helping the musicians hear themselves and each other is the most important thing because if they are happy they are going to produce the best results."
This is true for high-performing teams as well. As a leader, you need to make sure the people on your team can hear themselves and each other if you want them to produce the best results.
Think in terms of a multi-purpose hall, giving different teams and different sub-teams the ability to modify the box to fit their needs so they can hear themselves and each other better.
This is a good example of step 5 of The New Leader’s Playbook: Drive Action by Activating and Directing an Ongoing Communication Network (Including Social Media)
Everything communicates. You can either make choices in advance about what and how you’re going to communicate or react to what others do. It is important to discover your own message and be clear on your platform for change, vision, and call to action before you start trying to inspire others. It will evolve as you learn, but you can’t lead unless you have a starting point to help focus those learning plans. Identify your target audiences. Craft and leverage your core message and master narrative. Monitor and adjust as appropriate on an ongoing basis.
Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others. A big piece of this is creating an enabling environment so people can inspire each other.
What do you feel could help First-Time Leaders in transition?