Dynamic Communication: How Open Are You…Really?

Whether a landsman, project manager, liaison engineer, or as a parent - imparting information to others is an integral and essential part of leadership. However, the important distinction among leaders is how information is relayed.

In our examination of the characteristics of anabolic and catabolic leaders, so far we’ve determined that anabolic leaders “lead” and “participate,” while catabolic leaders “manage” and “delegate.”  This week, let’s look at another aspect of leadership - how information is passed along to others.

Whether a landsman, project manager, liaison engineer, or as a spouse - imparting information to others is an integral and essential part of leadership. However, the important distinction among leaders is how information is relayed. Catabolic leaders give sketchy 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 – we relinquish control with no strings attached. “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 delegating and participating.

When a problematic-focused manager gives information to others, they do so without much explanation, and with little validation. A conscious leader who shares information, however, explains in a way that is appropriate to the situation and gets buy-in. Their communication style builds trust, develops rapport, and deepens the connection with everyone they interact with.

Which of the following leaders is more likely to get the result they desire?

Catabolic leader: “Bob, 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: “Bob, we’re considering bringing in some additional staff members to ease some of the production crunch on you and your department. 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 like to sit down with you and hear your ideas for resolving this. How does that sound?”

Both leaders asked for the same information – but because how differently they asked we can imagine how different the results are likely to be! Bob’s response to the catabolic leader would probably be to react to what was going on and to manipulate data about his department and the people under him, and to either procrastinate doing the task or do it in an indirect way.  His 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.

Similarly, most sales leaders often find themselves involved in extensive sales and negotiation processes. Lack of proper skills, thoughts, and fears can hinder their ability to persuade, respond to objections, and arrive at a final course of action. Thus, having an anabolic communication style to create dynamic conversations about goals, solutions, and engage potential customers to form a successful relationship is essential.

Now imagine yourself in this second scenario:

One of your senior account managers is in direct communication with several clients in their territory. You believe their style of communication is very poor, and the effect on those clients is negative. You sense you must confront them about it, but are concerned about how they will react to your comments during their upcoming performance review.

As a leader, think about how you would normally respond to this scenario? If your initial reaction is, "What are you thinking about!? You're upsetting the clients and I don't have the time to straighten this out. You'd better find a way to fix this, now." What might your response look like if you transformed your comments to inspire clearer communication instead? In other words, based on a leader’s communication style, most negotiations are either won or lost before they even begin.

Each paragraph, each sentence, and each word, depending upon how it is said, as well as everything that is not said out loud, will impact a leader’s ability to communicate in such a way that inspires individuals to want to take action.

This week, try sharing instead of giving information, both at work and at home. Think about your body language, the tone of your voice, and other key characteristics that will make you an energetic communicator. Those extra few minutes of explanation and getting buy-in can make all the difference.

Remember - Anabolic leaders get results!


Debrah Mathis, ELI-MP, managing principal of E2S Solutions Professional Coaching LLC provides leaders and organizations transformational solutions using Energy Leadership™, an exclusive coaching approach that is cutting-edge, and perhaps one of the most significant developments in transformational leadership potential, emotional intelligence and self-mastery available with sustainable results. Visit www.EngagetoSuccess.com to view case studies and learn more why your E-Factor matters.

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