By JEREMY HEIGHTON
Kamloops North Shore BIA
I WAS DISMAYED RECENTLY, when I read a post from a political figure here in town that celebrated a political foe being seriously injured. It offended me that one person would ever call a serous misfortune “….a gift to the voters of Kamloops.”
Frankly, it sickened me to think that a political relationship would devolve into a judgment that any person’s misfortune was a blessing, in any way. What makes it even worse is the victim will be on a long, slow road to recovery; a road which will inevitable impact them, their family and their community for years.
I know quite a few people who can’t help but find the negative in any good situation. These folks seem to like to Criticize others who don’t meet their standards, Condemn those who make missteps, and just enjoy a good Complaint. I must admit, on occasion, I can get drawn into the dark dank world of the negative three Cs. However, I’ve never cheered on another’s misfortune. It crosses a line for me.
So, when I read the original post (which I have chosen not re-post), it caused me to pause and go back to my leadership materials and think about the positive Three Cs of leaders.
Communication, Collaboration and Consideration.
These three Cs require a bit more of you than the negative versions; they require emotional intelligence. They require you to think beyond self to the impacts of your words, actions and intentions.
When I talk about the three Cs of community building, I truly believe community leaders have a higher standard to meet. We need to expect more of ourselves if we are to create any kind of confidence in those we influence.
What are the definitions of my three C’s of building a stronger community?
1) Communication – this means to speak truth as fully as you can. It means that you face challenges head on and face to face. You acknowledge when you have failed, celebrate (just a a bit) when you win, and always try to be as complete and open as you can. For leaders, there are often limits to what can be said publicly. Projects require negotiations, deals require contracts, and limiting factors come to play. Communication to me means being as full and open as you can, knowing that when you can’t speak to something, the relationships you have built will respect that, knowing that when you can share you will, and it will be truth.
2) Collaboration – A few weeks after I started here at the BIA, I met with City leadership. As we sat around the table getting to know each other, I made a simple statement, one that I strive to fulfill every day. I said:
” I will always be open, I will always be honest, and I will always be tactful; But, I will not always sit on the same side of the table as you (regarding issues). That doesn’t mean I don’t like you, respect you or want to work with you, it just means we don’t agree.”
This was the point that violated my personal values in that social media post. My values include working together and to acknowledge when it goes sideways. However; never to escalate relationships to personal hate. Hate is a dark place that festers. Once you have gone there, there is seldom a path back to the light.
Collaboration is not always the easiest path, yet it most often yields the most balanced way forward for all involved.
Finally, Consideration – This means that we think beyond self to the impact of our words and action on others. I must admit, sometimes I move too quickly, or I push forward without considering all the angles on things (Leadership is a perpetual pursuit that is never fully achieved). So, when we are undertaking actions, thinking about what it means to others, how it will be received, what we can do to minimize any negatives, all help to build the ability to create stronger communities.
On the surface these three C’s of creating community seem pretty basic. To be honest, most leadership is. It’s about considering what you want to achieve, in this moment, in the next moment and in the long term.
In order to fulfill these three Cs, I also employ the following six strategies:
1) Include Everyone. Don’t pick favourites or make excuses. it will all come out and soon enough and it will taint everything else.
2) Listen to Everyone. Even when the message is lost in poor language or framed poorly, the message still exists.
3) Value Everyone and Every Effort. People who volunteer do so at the cost of their own lives. They do so to support the “what” or the “why” you believe in. Appreciate that.
4) Be Transparently Fair. If you do it for one, do it for all. If you have a rule, apply it consistently. Be indiscriminate.
5) Think Before you Do. If you are tempted to diminish, exclude, or otherwise devalue others, think about how it would make you feel.
6) Show Compassion. Hurting others out of ignorance of our impact, or because we have personal feelings, does nothing to build a team. It drives a wedge between your people and undermines your mission. Take the time to care, it will build relationships that will transcend your project and build your organization or community.
Jeremy Heighton is executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association. He has lectured on leadership and business around the world.