In any leadership role we all are called at some point to be a communicator. The way we develop, enunciate, verbalize, deliver and sustain our message can have a profound impact on how those around us receive that message. While there are many parts to communicating as a great leader, I would like to touch on a few today.
I had the pleasure of reading the book Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders recently. In this particular book there are three big leadership ideas:
- Developing the leadership message – what you want to say and do
- Delivering the leadership message – getting the message across, verbally, mentally, and metaphorically
- Sustaining the leadership message – keeping the message alive and fresh and meaningful
In this blog post I hope to touch briefly on each of these areas to help you as a growing leader understand the importance of your actions as you communicate with those on your team and around you. While keeping the three pillars mentioned above in mind, we are going to learn about six areas of communication and why they are important. Please do not think this is the end all be all of communicating with your staff and team! This is only meant to be a tool in your ever growing toolbox of knowledge and skills! Learn from one of the greats…
“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.”
– Walt Disney
We all have goals in our professional lives, know that each of us, no matter how great a leader we are, cannot do it alone. We all need help reaching that goal. Hopefully, I can provide some tips on how you can communicate your goal to your team and ultimately reach it.
So, let’s get to it!
What is Leadership Communications
There are many ways in which we communicate in our daily lives and many ways in which we engage those around us. Think about your team and how you currently provide or should work on providing the following for each of them.
Give people ownership of their own destiny. Make your stakeholders feel they are at the center of the issue. Dramatize their role in the events. Give them ownership of their destiny.
- Be consistent and repetitious. Never be afraid to repeat your leadership message over and over again.
- Lead from the front. Go to the front lines!
- Be curious. Ask questions. Look for answers.
- Publicize your message. Tell your story to people through the media.
- Be honest. Tell it straight.
- Live your message.
Developing the Leadership Message
Your leadership message must communicate information as well as open the door for participation by the listener. Can you say that all of your communication follow the graphic below? Does your message Inform your team? Do they clearly understand what it is you are trying to say? Does your message involve them in the process? Does it ignite their imagination, speaking bigger and better ideas? Does it invite them to be a part of the process? If you can answer yes to all of those questions, you are well on your way to being a great communicative leader. If not, think about how you can accomplish these items in your next message. You may find it easier to accomplish than you think.
Take the time to learn from others who have mastered this delivery method. Surround yourself with strong leaders who can also deliver on this kind of message. Be open, honest and forthcoming on the areas you need help.
Leading with e-Communications
In today’s fast paced world of technology, we rely heavily on e-communications, especially in the form of email. Think about how many emails you receive at work each day. Do you read each and every one of them with the care and thoughtfulness needed to fully understand what the other person is trying to convey? I know for myself, I receive many emails and do not give the attention each one of them may deserve. Your leadership message, no matter what the delivery method, must be rooted in the values of your organization and must be of significance to the recipient. It should be given to further a sense of trust and in today’s world should be consistent with your cultures and values. Clarity along with brevity is the best route when communicating through electronic means. If the message is too long, people will probably not take the time to read the whole message. Think before you send.
Delivering the Message
Delivering your message might be the harder part of the process for some of us. Take time to reflect on the mood of your organization and take your message, not yourself seriously. Remember that using your voice and your body with create authenticity when done correctly. Take time to practice your message.
- How are you using inflection?
- Do you sound credible?
- “Would you buy from this guy”? Are they receptive of the message?
Connecting with People Beyond Words
There can be nothing worse than using the wrong words when delivering your message. Understand the power of words! Communicate with conviction. People need to know where the leader stands! If you are not sure of where you stand, how is your teams going to know where to stand? Even when you need to deliver a message that is not positive, be honest and let the team know where you are at and that you are there with them. Stand up and be a leader, they will be looking to you to help them through the situation just as much as you will rely on them to follow through on what you need of them. Inspire them to always do their best in uncertain times. Your choice of words you use will stay with those who believe in you and your strength as a leader.
Leader as a Storyteller
Everyone can tell a story right? But can you tell a story that can make a stand, that touches the audience before you, that inspires them? The following video is of a great TEDx Talk given by Steve Denning on Leadership Storytelling. Listen to the way he communicates, the words he chooses to use and the message he brings. I challenge us all as leaders to learn this skill and when and how to use it properly.