"We need communications champions." The president’s opening remarks went on to explain the background of the Lottery Lunch concept. It’s an opportunity for people talk openly about the company and spend some time with co-workers. All were invited to introduce themselves, share a little background and identify anything they would like to discuss in particular.

The president is skilled at speaking about the company in broad terms. He has charisma and an easy smile. He’s diplomatic and articulate. You have to be that way to be an effective leader. He’s also sufficiently intimidating.

A phenomenon I like to call the “chill effect” happens around him sometimes – at town hall meetings, at lunches like this one and elsewhere. It’s apparent when silence washes over a room when he pauses to invite “any questions?” Silence? Really? No issues? The president encourages open discussion but no-one is quite sure how freely they can speak. Adding to the tone of the room was the slight discomfort of the low temperature – 12 degrees outside and it felt like the heating wasn’t making it into the tiny Conference room in the corner of the office building.

Actions speak louder than words.It is simply not enough to tell people over and over again that things are going to be better. Everyone seems to be working very hard to overcome obstacles. In this meeting alone several examples were given. Sadly, too often communication is poor. Information does not “cascade” down in an organization. In fact it doesn’t trickle down. Sometimes people run for the cover of their pier groups. The silos are not intentional but they are a survival tactic. How can it change?

Maybe it's just a good idea to talk to people candidly once in a while. Thanks for the salad Chief! (And making us feel like someone is listenting.)

-Optimistic Contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted September 25, 2010