December 5


Leadership and communication are actually layers, not levels

Straight Talk is a system for success. An open, transparent, and consistent method to get results. It’s the most rapid, complete way I know to develop the foundation for exceptional leadership and powerful communication.

Straight Talk is a way to clarify focus, prioritize effort, and gain confidence in the best next step. Better decisions, faster, that lead to decisive action.

A common misconception is who Straight Talk is for.

People want to know “what level” they need to be at before they are ready for Straight Talk. Often suggested as a nice-to-have for executives. Like some sort of luxury.

When people talk about levels, I always ask, “does it go all the way to 11?”

Comedy aside, that sort of thinking misses the point of Straight Talk. Real Straight Talk is a mindset, a skill set, and an experience.

But here’s the key: Straight Talk — leadership and communication — doesn’t work in levels. It works in layers. Understanding the three layers makes the difference in how Straight Talk works for you. For everyone.

Consider the layers a bit like nesting dolls.

Thinking in layers, not levels, to unleash the power of Straight Talk

The concept of layers is essential to unlocking exceptional leadership and powerful communication. It’s why the Straight Talk Framework (and others) holds value for everyone. There are three basic layers:

  • Individual
  • Team (the tightly-coupled cohort)
  • Organization or beyond (the loosely-coupled cohort)

Individual layer

Teams and organizations are comprised of individuals. Straight Talk, leadership, and communication all start at the individual level. It’s a conscious decision.

The first step is to lead yourself.

The mindset, skill set, and experience of Straight Talk is attainable. It’s powerful, too. The ability to talk straight with yourself is liberating. And it gets better with diligent practice and disciplined development.

At the individual level, Straight Talk guides clarity of focus, priority of effort, and confidence to take the best next step.

Check out how Straight Talk as an individual system for success works in the context of the team and beyond.

Team layer

Teams are individuals working closely together and in constant communication with each other. The notion of the team is not limited to geography or silo of focus (security, development, marketing, sales, etc.).

It works for the classic definition of a team with the same function. It really benefits internal and external blended teams. That’s the power of adopting a universal framework approach.

At this layer, the team rapidly establishes clarity of focus, priority of effort, and the best next step. This is how to make sure everyone understands the direction of the team — and their role in making it happen.

And then each individual uses Straight Talk to guide — and communicate — their own actions.

Organization and beyond layer

The organization (and beyond) layer is the collection of individuals and teams. Less likely to work together on a consistent basis. More likely to introduce jargon, confusing conventions, and friction. Lots of friction.

Just like the individual approach to Straight Talk rolls up into the team, it also works at the organizational level. It governs how organizations interact with each other.

Layered approaches reduce friction for everyone

Think about the havoc friction inflicts on teams and organizations through confusing controls, inefficient processes and complex communication.

Now consider the difference if everyone on the team (or in the organization) used the Straight Talk framework. When they already understand the mindset, developed skills, and embrace the experience. Each individual is practiced with the questions, able to expand their field of view for a more complete picture, and focus on what really matters.

The friction eroding value subsides.

What it means when you embrace layers over levels

Anyone and everyone is capable of making a difference.

Like Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

I’ve learned — and fully believe — that everyone is capable of leadership and effective communication. It starts by leading yourself. For some, that’s as far as it goes. It’s still a worthy pursuit.

It means everyone gains clarity of focus, priority of effort, and confidence to act by taking their best next step.

That’s powerful across all the layers.


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