I used to think that it was dishonest to change my message as I interact with different people. I wanted to be myself and expected everyone to either like it or lump it.
With some gray in my hair, I’ve come to realize that the ability to adapt communication to other people is critical. In leadership, most conversations are about sharing ideas and encouraging behaviors. In both cases you really need to make it as easy as possible for people to get it.
That’s why you always have to think about who you’re talking to, and talk in the best way to be heard. That best way is based on what they value. People will always plug into their own values; only the most altruistic will go through the work of plugging into yours.
So when you’re talking to your boss, you talk about organizational goals. When you’re talking to your peers, you talk about helping them solve their problems. When you’re talking to your team, you appeal to what they want out of the work. For some that’s self-fulfillment. For others, it might be security in the status quo, or the excitement of change.
This isn’t cynical button-pushing. It’s recognition that everyone has different reasons for why they show up every day. All you’re doing is showing them all why doing the right thing is the right thing for everyone.