Have you ever ridden in a taxi? If you have, you know the drill. Once you’re lucky enough to flag down a cab, you climb in and the driver asks, “Where to?”
Pretty simple question, right? What would happen if your reply to the driver was, “I’m not sure.” I don’t know how the driver would react, but I can be sure you wouldn’t go anywhere. You’ve got to have a destination in mind when you begin a journey.
On January 12, 1950, then Secretary of State Dean Acheson delivered a speech at the National Press Club. In his speech he discussed the military security of the Pacific area and the United State’s policy in regard to it. He also indicated the U.S. would maintain a defensive perimeter that included the Aleutian Islands, Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, and the Philippines. He went on to say, “So far as the military security of other areas in the Pacific is concerned, it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack.”
Whenever I ask someone, “What’s the biggest challenge your organization is facing?”, one of the top three answers is always something like, “We simply can’t get our people to change.” Change has long been the thorn in the side of many groups. The truth is, people just don’t like change. It’s true. And that includes you and I. Sure, we’re all for change when it’s our idea, but when it’s not… well, change doesn’t seem so appealing then.
There is no shortage of information available on the topic of leadership. Google the word leadership and Google tells you there are “about 401,000,000 results.” If you type the same word into the search box on Amazon’s web page it returns just over 104,000 results. I’m often asked, when I speak or teach on the subject of leadership, “What is the single most important tool a leader should have in his toolbox?”
Now, you might think, with all of the information available on leadership, it would be impossible to narrow it down to a “single most important tool,” but, the truth is it’s not hard. There is a single most important tool – a tool that you must have – if you want to be a successful leader. What is that tool? Communication.