The score will take care of itself ~ Bill Walsh

11ish Innovation Updates

What James Bond Taught Us About Effective Communication

It’s the end of the road for Daniel Craig. The debonair Bond has led the age-old franchise since 2006–through a storm of relationships, villain-chasing, and M-irking. Following No Time to Die, he passes the torch to the next super spy.

The world has been obsessed with 007 since Fleming introduced him in print in the 1950s and in film in the 1960s. He’s macho, risqué, handsome, great with the ladies. And yes, we can point to any number of misogynistic tendencies and privileged behaviors that are worth parsing (and condemning). But there’s something else we’ve overlooked since Sean Connery inaugurated the role: His ability to handle his superiors.

Brace yourself. This might be a contentious perspective.

On the surface, Bond has always seemed to be disrespectful–to just about anyone in his circle, including his superiors. But one of his underlying messages was always clear: Judge me by my work, not by my words.

I’m not dismissing the importance of words here. I don’t disagree that Bond was terrible at relationship-building. But he did understand that his work was what was most important to MI6.

I can’t help but think of this when I expend a metric ton of energy trying to say the right things and do the right things to please higher-ups. So much energy is expended on this that, to be honest, I often have little in the tank for the work I’m supposed to do. In many places, it seems the politics game comes first, work second.

Say what you will about Bond’s uncouth approach to leadership–and yes, there’s plenty to say–but my point is this: Our work should speak the loudest. It should be quality, and it should reflect a commitment to growth and improvement.

For leaders, this demands a shift in conversation. Our push should not be, “Who are you talking to and making nice with?” but rather, “How is your work coming along and how can I help you do it better?”

Again, I’m not dismissing the importance of words and relationships. Both are key to a healthy work environment. But when we over-emphasize these to the detriment of the work we’re tasked with doing, we lose purpose and productivity.

No, Bond isn’t the best role model in many respects–but he always understood the importance of his work.


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