Leadership and management are about making a Difference. Ask anyone who attempts it, and the motivation is to make things better, faster, more efficient, easier. Some definition of Different is embedded in both the role and the calling. Those who are not that role will often look up at them and wonder first why would anyone want that job, and then second, exactly what the heck are they talking about? Clearly, it is some other language, as what they are saying makes little or no sense to them…
… and those of us called to that role are used to that look of total… something. We don’t know what it is, or what they heard, but clearly as with Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is… a failure to communicate”. It starts with the Venn Diagram from last week -in this exercise the manager has to orient their communication to each individual circle, and then bring that closer to the center of where you need everyone to be. You won’t move them all, and hopefully the ones actually closer to the solution will pull you their way, but it start with reorienting your frame of reference.
After returning from their tour of Europe, Van wanted to dig deeper into the R&B music he now understood Differently. The black American GI’s after shows would introduce him to an even broader spectrum of music than his father’s records. He also really related to the stories of the working man’s grind from a minority frame of reference. Northern Ireland was a hotbed of class and religious strife, those Differences eventually labeled “The Troubles” that surrounded Van and his contemporaries. The rest of the band wanted to continue to play “show” music, so Van bounced through a few more bands before landing at a Maritime Hotel House Band.
Much like the tour, they played 5 nights a week, and ground out songs that were mostly cover tunes… none of them imagined themselves as “writers”. Van however had moved into the front of the band, and started to literally make up lyrics, realizing that blues was mostly that anyway. They got a reputation for great live performances, and eventually caught the eye of Decca Records who signed the band to a 2 year contract. They needed a name – and in a throwback to a bad 1950 sci-fi movie about nuclear-accelerated ants, they went with…. The Them.
Them. The other side of management – those people out there … somewhere… like those Ants, are doing something. Your role is to figure out how to make that Different. And as James Whitmore found in the movie, nuclear bombs while satisfying, don’t really affect them like you want. Oh, there are many managers would like to, but as I try to make my own value clear, the person I am talking with is the one that needs to do things Differently. So what works?
As I alluded to yesterday, it starts with the possibility that they didn’t actually hear or understand what you said. Yes, I know that is shocking that you might not be a clear communicator, but the truth is that there nearly 1000 Different styles of processing information that humans can exhibit. Add to that the different regional differences within a country as large as ours, and then remember that we are a land of immigrants full of people from places that used to be home with their own languages. Finally, remember that famous quote from Churchill about Britain and the US .. “Two peoples divided by a common language”.
That would the “Defining reality” portion, but now for the “Provide Hope” – the definition of management according to Scott Eblin. To get people to behave Differently, you first have to figure out how they communicate… Them. Not you – how to THEY interpret what you have just masterfully crafted and spoken/written to them. Have them repeat it back so you know how well you communicated. And then do it again – Differently – until they actually understand what you want.. Or better yet, you both realize that won’t work, but something else might, often something that they will say back to you from their frame of reference. And let’s be honest – they actually know better more often than most managers want to admit.
This song would not be released until the 2nd album of Them released in 1967 – after it was clear that their singer was something Different. Even in this track, you will hear riffs and phrases that will tease you with “I have heard this.” They would have some success as you will hear tomorrow with one of their/his biggest hits, but today this track seemed both chronologically and lyrically correct. Written while they were making it up every night, it is a challenge from The Them. To make things Different, you have to manage Differently particularly in communications. Could You, Would You?