Have you ever thought about how great leaders become great leaders and command respect, even if you don’t know them?
It’s the way in which and how they communicate – whether it be within the four walls of an organization or externally to the outside world.
Communication is more critical today than ever before. Long gone are the days of telegrams and operator assisted phone calls. In today’s world, we are dealing with social media, podcasts, global news outlets, and a plethora of communication mediums, all of which need to be carefully managed and controlled. Missteps in communication can be detrimental at any level.
Let’s recognize the value of emotional intelligence (EQ). (All great leaders have high levels on EQ.) Top of the list is self-awareness allowing leaders to adapt to, and more readily, understand situations, which is supported by clear communication.
Three factors to all communication:
- Who is the audience? Internal or external? Media or regulators? Employees or leadership?
- What the purpose? Organization changes? strategic updates?
- What is the message you want the audience to take away?
Adapt your communication to the audience, even if you have the same purpose and objective to them. Whatever the audience the communication is being tailored, the message must be consistent, or it will create confusion and misinterpretation. How many times do we read or hear conflicting messages from leaders? Those who don’t conflict tend to have one thing in common, consistency.
I always advocate “less is more” in a era where information overload comes from all directions, at all levels.
Keeping communication clear, concise, and to the point goes a long way. Whether it is an update at a town hall, a press release, or a board meeting, having less content for the audience will keep them focused and engaged. Unless you are writing a thesis, or narrating a documentary, don’t think of it as an opportunity to communicate everything you know on the subject.
Most leaders recognize they need a strong communication team to support them. Deciding what mediums of communication are needed and will create the most impact is crucial. Be targeted and focused on the mediums you use. Overuse of mediums can create unintended consequences.
How often do you need to communicate?
It is important to maintain regular channels of communication, whether you are a CEO or a supervisor. Most employees value regular communication from their leaders and a level of transparency. Maintaining a regular cadence can help build motivation and keep employees engaged.
There is no one style to effective communication. This will come down to a leader’s EQ, self-awareness, and adaptability to the style of communication for the intended purpose.
EQ is important at all levels of leadership, so continue to have self awareness, be authentic, and continue to exercise your integrity. Great leaders can inspire political movements and social change. With the increasing focus on climate risk, environmental, social and governance agendas, there is opportunity to drive change.
When in doubt, think of the 3 Cs of communication: be clear, consistent, and concise.
Next in the Leadership Series: Leading through Change