What does it mean to be “All In”?

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What does it mean to be “All In”? Context always matters and this is no exception. In my world of leadership development, coaching and facilitation with teams, it usually means to be fully committed. But to what? And how? And what does it look like in action?

Let’s focus on one specific aspect of what it means to be all in—taking full responsibility for clear communication. I hate to say it, but I notice huge gaps between what leaders and team members claim, and what they actually do when it comes to being committed in this area. Why is that?

The vaguer a concept is, the easier it is to get people on board.

People commit to the idea of clear communication because it sounds good.

It sounds good because no one is defining exactly what it looks like so there’s no clear goal.

There’s no clear goal so there’s no accountability.

There’s no accountability so there’s no real progress.

There’s no real progress so the phrase becomes buzzword fodder and loses meaning.

Here are three simple steps you can take to fix all of that.

Step 1: Define what it looks like in practice. Be specific!

Without a target, how do you know what you’re aiming at? One way to approach improvement in this area is to think about specific people. Name one person with whom you’d like to improve your relationship through taking more responsibility for clearer communication. What is one thing you could do with this person to bring about a better result? How would they benefit if you did this? How would you benefit?

Another approach is to think of common situations where clear communication is a struggle. Walk through a specific example and identify places where you can do something differently. Where can you ask clarifying questions? How can you demonstrate active listening? How can you ask for feedback to make sure you’ve been understood correctly?

Step 2: Ask for input, feedback, and to be held accountable.

Otherwise, how will you know whether or not you’re making any progress? Nothing builds trust faster than showing vulnerability. Tell a colleague or team member where you’re trying to improve (see Step 1). Ask for their input on how they’ve seen this fall apart for you. Ask if they are willing to give you feedback every week or so on how you’re doing.

The trick here is to follow through. If you ask someone to be prepared to give feedback, you have to be prepared to receive it. If you don’t agree with it, ask questions to help you understand their perspective. Ask for examples. Thank them for their willingness to give input. Take a moment to sit with the feedback and reflect on where you can adjust.

Step 3: Adjust and try again.

Rinse and repeat. We’re all works in progress, so let go of the self-flagellation. It’s not helping you or anyone else. Notice what’s working and what’s not. Where are you able to get a better result? Where are you still struggling? What worked really well? What epically failed? Find opportunities in the challenges and try again.

Being “All In” in this way means looking at that communication flow in all directions. Whether you’re on the receiving end or you’re giving information, the responsibility is the same. Don’t leave the conversation until that clarity is achieved. When you take responsibility for clear communication in a meaningful way, you really are “All In”.

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