Your Leadership Wake: As A Leader, How Do You Share Your Knowledge?
This previous post had broken down the power and influence of leadership impact and introduced this series of posts covering where the wake from a leader’s actions can be observed and felt.
It outlined how a leader — or anyone, for that matter — can create and leave behind a positive, exhausting, or neutral experience for those around them, based on how they approach different areas such as collaboration, communication, and expression.
It asked us to consider what a leader leaves in their wake.
This post is one of many in the series which breaks down a few of the areas in which a leader has the ability – and opportunity, depending on how you look at it – to establish their impact and set the resulting ripple effect and tone for each of the areas to be covered.
To assess a targeted area of their leadership impact, each post will outline a consideration the leader should take into account by answering a specific question.
In this post, the question which should be asked by a leader is…
How Do I Share My Knowledge?
Knowledge is the foundation of everything in leadership. Through “knowledge,” we mean understanding the work, the environment, and those who are being led.
Upon it, ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and strategies are formed to develop a path to an organization’s or group’s success.
Leadership capability and wherewithal are vital, but the specific knowledge and general familiarity of factors impacting the mission and work at hand are needed in order to plot the right course in a mission.
Empowering people is critical, but it is nothing without knowing and understanding that with which you are empowering them.
The availability of knowledge is what helps dictate that success. It answers the questions: What are we doing right? How are we measuring up? What is the competition doing? What are our next steps? What should we fix? What should we build upon?
These are all questions to ask to begin reinforcing the basic technical knowledge of the company and industry. It works toward answering the overarching question, What is going on?
The answer keeps people in the loop. Through it, they understand what they are doing and what they need to be doing? It helps them gauge where they stand compared to where they want (and should) be.
Without knowledge, a leader can’t make the proper calls about where to focus nor do followers know where and when to shift the focus of the frontline work.
A leader has to seek the best current knowledge and then share it accordingly with his or her followers. It does no one any good if the leader has knowledge and won’t share it, or shares it but in the wrong way.
How one shares the wealth of information they’ve collected to-date is very conclusive in its effects. And depending on how important it is for others to learn the information, the style by which it is provided is key.
So how does knowledge shape the leadership impact? What does it look like in the positive, exhausting, or neutral experience?
The Positive Experience
In the positive experience, the time is taken by the leader to outline the points of information in such a fashion that the person who is receiving the information understands the details, and both the relevance and applicability of the information.
For the workforce, through that transparent, open, and timely knowledge-sharing, those on the frontline can plan their work accordingly for the short-, mid-, and long-term timelines. Through that abundance of information, those in the workforce can not only plan accordingly for what is predictable but can also prepare contingencies allowing agility and flexibility in response to the unforeseeable.
As a result, aside from preparation, it allows those in the workforce to feel as if they are part of the mission. They are aware of what is going on and the state of current affairs – as much as possible.
This is the positive experience because through that inclusion the workforce feels more connection to the value of the work and its delivery. It is more nimble and prepared through its cohesiveness and empowerment.
The Exhausting Experience
In the exhausting experience, the leader does not provide the information and then becomes upset when the results (which could have benefitted from that knowledge) are lackluster.
For the workforce, because the information is not provided in a timely nor organized manner, it takes additional work and effort to understand what is being relayed. The energy the workforce uses to decipher the information and react to the circumstances could have been used for more proactive and effective efforts. Instead, the work suffers.
The result of possible misinformation, miscommunication, and lack of clarity in information is a disorganized effort going forward. Results suffer and corrections are needed.
This is the exhausting experience under knowledge sharing because the workforce has to work twice as hard to understand what’s going on and/or correct what has resulted from the poor approach. It is using vital energy it could have used to be proactive forward to instead put out fires constantly.
The Neutral Experience
In the neutral experience, the leader doesn’t provide any such information up front on a regular basis, but instead might share the information when reacting to a situation later.
Whereas in the positive experience the sharing of the knowledge is a proactive effort, the practice here is much different. The leader doesn’t understand the power of that knowledge and the impact sharing can have on the workforce. They don’t consider the needs of the workforce.
For the workforce – it needs to work in bursts as it gets information sparingly instead of getting the information evenly distributed in a timely manner. It gets just enough information to handle its day-to-day operations.
The result is that the work doesn’t necessarily suffer but the workplace isn’t as prepared as it could be for the unforeseen.
This is the neutral experience because the workplace is not working forward nor falling back as much as it could be. It is merely surviving – head above water.
Yes, knowledge is powerful, but it’s only advantageous if the leader seeks it out, harnesses it, and shares it accordingly and effectively.
As you go, keep in mind how much you can provide to others. There’s plenty of information and experience you’ve picked up along the way, which you may not believe is valuable but from which others might benefit immensely.
Knowledge is power. Period. It’s more than learning. It’s more than retaining information. It’s not just retention, but activation. It’s not merely the details, but what you do with them.
So, how do you share your knowledge?
Questions to consider for the leadership wake:
- How Do I Share My Opinions?
- How Do I Acknowledge Others?
- How Do I Speak To Others?
- How Do I Listen To Others?
- How Do I Guide and Support Others?
- What Would Happen If You Were To Leave Tomorrow?
So, What About You?
- What does your knowledge-sharing with others look like?
- Looking back, based on different forms and levels of knowledge-sharing, how did they shape working relationships?
- What tweaks can you make in how you share your knowledge with others, to improve interactions?