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Leadership Communications -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
How much communication should I (as the Family Readiness Group Leader) have with the unit commander?

Answer:
Family Readiness Group (FRG) leaders should work very closely with the unit commander. Try to schedule regular meetings with the commander to discuss how the FRG is functioning, how to improve it, etc. Ultimately, the FRG is his/her responsibility, so the commander needs to be kept up-to-date on how it is doing. Furthermore, he/she may be able to assist you with any problems you are having or help you get additional resources or support from the unit or community. The FRG leader and the unit commander should work together to make the FRG operate effectively.

Question:
How should Family Readiness Group members relate to each other's rank or position in the unit?

Answer:
There is "no rank" among Family Readiness Group (FRG) members. Although the FRG is an official organization, its purpose is to provide a conduit for mutual support and assistance, a network of communication among members, the chain of command, and community resources. The unit commander may be senior in rank to the Soldiers in the FRG and serve in his official capacity at times during FRG meetings. However, he/she is an FRG member equal in status to all the other members of the FRG. He/she and the FRG leader should foster a climate of equality and respect for all FRG members. Membership in the FRG is equal, regardless of one’s rank, gender, marital status, age, race, or religion. This is fundamental to the success of Family Readiness Groups.

Question:
How should leaders counsel their staff or group members on what they've done wrong?

Answer:
Providing feedback to your employees or group members is important. Although providing positive feedback is much easier, there are times when negative feedback is necessary. In order for negative feedback to be effective, it is important that you do it privately. Avoid embarrassing the individual in public. If possible, address problems as soon as you become aware of them. Be specific and focus on the behavior or the performance. Do not “attack” the individual. If possible, identify aspects of the individual’s behavior or performance that are positive and use the discussion to focus on how he/she can improve. Help him/her develop a plan of action and establish a method for measuring the individual’s progress. Negative feedback does not have to be unpleasant. It can be used as a basis to develop clearer directions and a plan for improvement. The discussion that takes place can also be used to assess the individual’s resources and address training requirements. These are just a few tips for delivering negative feedback to individuals. Learn more about counseling and coaching techniques from the resources provided.

Question:
How should strategic leaders measure their success in their organization?

Answer:
There are many answers to this question, but the important point here is that strategic leaders (any leader, actually) should develop a method to measure his/her success. Strategic leaders are the individuals in an organization who have long-term vision and who have a key role in developing the organization's goals. Their success is typically associated with how well the organization does in reaching these goals. The tools used to measure the organization's progress in achieving these goals can also be used to measure the strategic leader's success. Other ways to measure a leader's success include surveying the members in the organization on the "corporate climate" in which they work. A leader’s success is also dependent on how well he/she manages the organization's resources (money, time, people, etc.). Learn more about effective leadership and organizational management using some of the references listed here.

Question:
How useful are personality type indicator instruments?

Answer:
Personality type indicator instruments are used to help individuals analyze their personality traits. The results can provide insights into one’s work style preferences as well as highlight leadership strengths and weaknesses. The information can also be used to assist an individual’s interpersonal communication with others. Many career counselors used these instruments to determine compatible career paths for their clients.

Question:
Is email communication an effective method to distribute information to Family Readiness Group (FRG) members?

Answer:
Email communication is a very effective and efficient method to distribute information (disseminating newsletters, sending updates to meetings, etc.) to Family Readiness Group (FRG) members. However, it is important to recognize its limitations. For example, some members may not have easy access to a computer or the Internet. Electronic communication is impersonal, so messages sent via email may not have the same effect as a personal phone call or visit. Additionally, there are privacy and security concerns to be aware of when sending messages via email. While email is a very effective method to communicate with FRG members, keep these limitations in mind and supplement when necessary with alternate, or perhaps more personal, methods of contact.

Question:
What are some common barriers to effective communication?

Answer:
Effective communication involves the successful transmission and receipt of information. The choice of words, the tone of one’s voice, physical gestures, and the ability to listen effectively all contribute to important aspects of communication. Anything that causes the message being sent to being inaccurately received is considered a barrier to effective communications. For example, there are physical distractions such as bad phone lines or noisy rooms that may affect what the receiver actually hears. There are cultural barriers that may affect the way a message is understood such as when a person uses unfamiliar expressions, slang phrases, or local jargon. An individual’s emotional state (either they sender or receiver of the message) can be a barrier. If someone is angry or preoccupied with emotions, he/she may have trouble hearing the message. Another barrier is “information overload.” This often occurs in a classroom setting, lecture, or perhaps a sales pitch. Quite often the person trying to communicate the information is so knowledgeable about the subject matter that he/she tries to “tell it all.” Those on the receiving end find it so overwhelming that they barely get any of the details. These are just a few examples of the types of obstacles that can interfere with effective communication. Learn more about effective communication skills through the many resources available on this subject (books, classes, seminars, etc.).

Question:
What are some effective listening techniques?

Answer:
Listening is the process of receiving and understanding information being transmitted. Effective listening refers to receiving the information accurately and perceiving it as it was intended to be understood. There are a number of techniques that you can employ to increase the probability that the message you are hearing is the message being sent. Below is a list of some of these techniques. Note that this list is not conclusive, but provides some examples. - Prepare yourself to listen by giving your full attention to the speaker. - Make eye contact with the speaker and give feedback to him/her to acknowledge that the message is being heard, such as smiling or nodding your head. - Don’t interrupt someone who’s speaking. Allow them to finish their train of thought before you respond. - Don’t make assumptions about what you think the speaker is going to say. Doing this can cause you to ‘hear what you expect to hear’ as opposed to what is actually being said. Try to understand the speaker’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it. - Watch the speaker for any non-verbal clues such as body motions and facial expressions that allow you to ‘read between the lines.’ - Use feedback techniques to make sure you understood what the speaker said such as: asking questions to clarify your understanding, repeating back to the speaker what you think you heard (parroting), or rephrase what you think the speaker said to check your perception.

Question:
What are some key things that a leader needs to do in order to get his/her organization to reach certain goals?

Answer:
Most resources on this subject emphasize that leaders should establish a rapport with group members by fostering cohesion, cooperation, and communication among the members of their organization. Leaders need to clearly communicate the organization's purpose or mission, and explain the method for achieving the goal and desired results to the members of the organization – individually and/or collectively. Tasks should be identified and clearly defined to those members responsible for carrying them out. Leaders should provide the tools and sufficient resources necessary for the group to reach a goal. Additionally, leaders should provide effective motivation to group members to encourage them to accomplish the necessary tasks and recognize their achievements along the way. Note that there are a number of resources on this subject and variations on effective leadership skills. Check with some of the references listed here for more information.

Question:
What are some of the limitations of using telephone trees?

Answer:
Telephone trees can be a very effective way to distribute information to a large number of people. However, there are some pitfalls of which to be aware. For example, membership in a Family Readiness Group (FRG) fluctuates quite a bit as Soldiers transfer into and out of a unit. In order for a telephone tree to be effective, it is important that the roster be kept current and telephone numbers accurate. Some members may not have telephones or their numbers may be unlisted. These are other obstacles. Also delivering messages via a telephone tree creates an opportunity for the message to be distorted along the way. Unless you have procedures in place, such as a callback to the originator (or FRG leader) when the last person has been called, you run the risk of the message being changed along the way or missing some of the members. One way to help ensure the information delivered is accurate is to have callers recite a written message. Learn more about using telephone trees from the Operation READY Army Family Readiness Group Leader's Handbook or from the other resources provided.
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