The shortcomings of email communication is not the only point of this post. It is the subject of a short video, entitled Why Email Starts Fights, from Ed Muzio, the CEO of Group Harmonics, which you can view it its entirety here. The video is co-produced by CBS Interactive/BNET.
In it Muzio quotes a study in the 1960′s by Dr. Albert Mehrabian which documents the doctor’s findings that the “liking” people have for the communicator of messages is based only about 7% on the words used. Tonal expression (38%) and non-verbal behavior (55%) are the other two contributors.
According to Wikipedia, there are lots of ways to misinterpret Dr. Mehrabian’s results (and I may be guilty of one here) but his conclusions certainly reinforces the value of having weekly face to face meetings by leadership team members, and failing that ability, to at least come together quarterly. Live conference calls add back the vocal and almost achieve 50% effectiveness, so they are a good middle ground if you can’t get together physically, if you adhere to the caveat in the last paragraph of this post.
Trust among leaders is the foundation of all other results according to Patrick Lencioni. See my earlier posts on Open and Honest Conflict here and Trust on Leadership Teams here. Given that EOS leadership team meetings are meant to be devoted predominantly to solving complex business issues, then face-to-face discussion and resolution is critical if the teams are to avoid all the challenges that arise from miscommunications, especially from email and other non face-to-face mediums.
It is also the reason we stress that all the members of the leadership team be present in the meeting. We ask that they not be multi-tasking with their phones or laptops. Eye-ball to eye-ball interaction is what we ask. Engaged leaders solve business problems through open and honest communications with each other. We owe it to each other, and the companies we are leading, to remove as many obstacles as possible from our communications. Don’t you agree?