Alexander Graham BellOn March 7 (tomorrow), 1876 Alexander Graham Bell was issued a patent by the U.S. Patent Office for “the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically …  by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound.”

The telephone was first seen as an entertaining novelty. Bell and his partners offered to sell the patent outright to Western Union for $100,000. In yet another glaring example of the futility of forecasting, the president turned them down because he could never see it being more than a toy. Just two years later he ruefully declared that if he could now get the patent for $25 million it would be a bargain. But the newly created Bell Telephone Company no longer wanted to sell their now highly lucrative invention.

Communication technology has since shrunk and dramatically changed our world. It’s created today’s global village where we can easily “reach out and touch someone” (AT & T’s famous slogan launched in 1979) — or connect to millions of people.

Communication technology is double-edged. It has interconnected our world like never before. But it also presents big new challenges for managing our time and attention. If we don’t tame our technology, our tools can quickly enslave us.

Tomorrow is also the release of my February blogs pulled together and published into The Leader Letter.  Communication is the focus of the first item in this issue.

Communication is to leadership as water is to a ship. Without effective communication there is no leadership. But far too many managers confuse information with communication. Information connects with our head (thinking and logic) while effective communication connects with our heart (feelings and perceptions). In this issue we look further at effective leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence daring to live the L word – love – in making heartfelt connections that inspire and energize. This is a vital element in leading at the speed of change. Emotionally intelligent leaders start with Why, and are responding to the changing workplace.

We’ll also review some research showing how strong leaders draw from the inside out to build the happiness advantage. And because leaders care deeply, safety transcends programs, strategies, or initiatives to become embedded in the organization’s culture.

Alexander Graham Bell’s famous first words on his new invention were to his assistant in an adjoining room, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” In these fast moving times, people in your workplace want to see you lead. How are you answering the call?