Your mindset plays a big role in how you communicate with others, and how others communicate with you.

At Dynamic Achievement, we’ve created a framework that classifies leaders and organizations as being either horizontal or vertical. Let’s take a look at the differences between the behaviours that horizontal and vertical organizations exhibit. And then read on to see how horizontal organizations can have a detrimental impact on workplace communications.

Horizontal organizations

Organizations that operate horizontally typically find these types of behaviours from their employees:

Distractions dominate

Your employees are distracted and your managers are spending a lot of time dealing with small issues and problems when they should be focusing on your vision and goals.

Silos and conflict are common

People are not working well together and each department is guarding its own turf instead of working toward their common goals.

Arrogance and egos emerge

Arrogance and egos present themselves in in meetings, emails and conversations. There are a lot of egos strutting around believing they already know it all and are above everyone else. This indicates that people are closed off and not open to hearing ideas and suggestions that might be better than their own and that could improve the business.

Lack of accountability

Your employees are not taking full responsibility for their goals and their role in the company. There is also a lack of accountability by leaders. Instead of focusing on improvement, they make excuses for poor performance and incomplete assignments and lament that they aren’t paid enough. Truth is, the culture leaders create is usually the root of this scenario.

Communication at a horizontal organization

When it comes to communication, people at horizontal organizations typically use these phrases and display these traits:

  1. They say “but” often. This comes from the desire to be “right” rather than to truly be open to understanding.
  2. Listening skills are often poor and there is little interest in actually being open to new ideas.
    Conversations, emails and meetings are dominated by “I”, “me” and “my” as they speak and write, rather than “us” and “we.” This often parallels with being egocentric, insecure and having fear of others being right.
  3. Oriented towards solving “problems” rather than creating the result that is needed. Meetings often are dominated by dialogue about making the problem and symptoms “go away.” Very little focus is on understanding the underlying structure of why things are the way they are.

Approximately 85% of people tend to be horizontal more often, which means these communication traits are common too.

Vertical organizations

By comparison, vertical leaders display these characteristics:

  • Set the vision and direction for the organization
  • Lead by example
  • Are innovative and constantly learning
  • Are driven by values
  • Collaborate
  • Self-govern

Learn to lead and operate vertically

In our Vertical Leader workshops we guide people to understand the difference between being more horizontal and more vertical, as well as how to become more vertical by design. As well, we coach people on how our communication style reveals our mindset and help them move into a more vertical leadership style that can proliferate throughout your organization.

So the next time you are in a meeting, sit back and take notice. Keep count of the “buts” and observe how people listen. For yourself, take a look at the last few emails you sent. Are they dominated by “I” and “me” and “my”? If so, that correspondence may have been coming from a more horizontal orientation.

Contact us to learn more.