My husband and I recently went camping in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

There was one particular cactus that I just fell in love with called a teddy bear cholla.

If you were to see it in the sunlight, the top of it almost glows with its bright white spines while the bottom has brown spines looking like teddy bear legs. From a distance, it looks like something I could run up to and give a hug! (Don’t worry. I didn’t.)

Teddy bear cholla cactus. A cactus with spines. Picture being used to depict the difference between effective and ineffective leaders.

Now, you might be wondering, “Why is she talking about a cactus?”

Trust me. I’ve got a point and it has to do with effective communication!

Some cacti, like the teddy bear cholla, have spines to protect themselves from predators. Prickly, one might say. In a way, being very direct with making their statement known.

However, while most cacti do have spines, some do not.

For example, we have one at our house called the Opuntia aurea. Because this type of cactus has no spines, we like to refer to it as the “spineless” cactus.

Opuntia aurea. A spineless cactus. Picture being used to depict the difference between effective and ineffective leaders.

Well, these cacti got me thinkin’!

When I hear the word ‘spineless’, my first thought isn’t usually about a cactus. Instead, I think of people and, in particular, leaders.

I have experienced a lot of managers throughout my careers.

Many could be considered ‘spineless’. The type of managers who would let people walk all over them. They didn’t seem to have the ‘spine’ to manage internal conflict.

It felt like the office didn’t really have a manager, much less a leader.

But when I think of the managers who did have ‘spines’? I think of those who stood up for their teams. Those who had tough conversations with their employees. The ones that reached out to me if they saw I needed help.

I now realize that these managers had one thing in common.

They knew how to effectively communicate with their various team members to get the job done.

If you are a manager or leader, how effective are you in that role? Are you a prickly teddy bear cholla or more like the spineless Opuntia aurea?

Either way, I’m here to help you become a better manager and leader through effective communication! Visit carolgrubbe.com/inspire-leaders to see how I can do just that.

Carol Grubbe LLC:  Communication Made Simple

Understanding how to communicate with your team is as simple as knowing their communication style.