Communication: Do You Give Direction or Make a Request?
So far we’ve explored the characteristics of anabolic and catabolic leaders, and have determined that anabolic leaders “lead” and “participate,” while catabolic leaders “manage” and “delegate.” We’re going to look at another aspect of leadership – how information is passed along to others – to further see the difference between the two types of leaders.
In any type of leadership role imparting information to others is an integral and essential part of leading. Catabolic leaders give information, while anabolic leaders share information.
“Giving” means to convey, transmit, assign, or allot. When we give to others, we no longer have ownership of what we give. “Sharing,” on the other hand, means to partake of, use, or experience with others. When we share, we’re still part of the process – we’re “in it” with the other person. It’s similar to the difference between catabolic delegating and anabolic participating.
Communication is Key
When a catabolic leader gives information to others, they do so without much explanation, and with little buy-in or justification. An anabolic leader who shares information, however, explains well and gets buy-in, which builds trust, develops rapport, and deepens the connection with the other person.
Which of the following leaders is more likely to get the result they desire?
Catabolic leader – “Susan, I need a rundown of the responsibilities of the people in your department. Please get it to me by tomorrow afternoon, if not sooner.”
Anabolic leader – “Susan, we’re considering bringing in some additional staff members to ease some of the production crunch you and your department are under. I’d like a rundown of the responsibilities of the people in your department so that I can see who’s doing what and where some gaps might be. Since I’d like to get this process underway soon, how possible would it be to get this to me by tomorrow afternoon or earlier? After I take a look at it, I’d love to sit down with you to hear your ideas for resolving this. How does that sound?”
The two leaders asked for the same information – but how differently they asked will likely result in a different approach to the task on Susan’s part and the final product she returns to the leader. Susan’s response to the catabolic leader would probably be to question what was going on and to worry about her department and the people under her, and to either put off doing the task or do it in perfunctory way. Her response to the anabolic leader, on the other hand, would most likely be to jump right into the task, do it well, and generate ideas for improvement.
Anabolic leaders get results! This month, try sharing instead of giving information, both at work and at home. Those extra few minutes of explanation and getting buy-in can make all the difference.