Good communication is a core principle of leadership. In my work as an executive coach, I stress communication to my clients every day. Two problems in particular seem to have the worst consequences when it comes to communication:
Mistake No.1: Secrecy. Leadership requires transparency. That’s part of the reason that leaders who pride themselves on their authority often find themselves in trouble. They share information only with their inner circle, keeping everyone else in the dark. The results: rumors and leaks, both very damaging. Even leaders who are private by nature need to recognize that people talk, share and want to know.
Mistake No. 2: Making Decisions in Isolation. It’s a common situation. After being held back, a leader is finally is in a position to bring about change. So they jump right in. When people start to see things happen but never have a chance to give input or even learn what’s going on, they become suspicious—and, in time, disconnected. Meanwhile, the leader is so wrapped up in their own agenda that they’re entirely out of touch with their team.
If you’re in leadership and either of these situations sound familiar, you need to start making changes right now. Here’s how you turn things around:
Communicate more than you think is natural. Communicate with your team every day. Write emails. Give informal talks. Have one-on-one meetings. Communication should make up a large part of your day.
Don’t be afraid to repeat things. Don’t say something once and assume you’ve been understood. Different people respond to different messages and media. Repeat the same thing in different ways to make sure it gets through.
Treat people with respect. People feel respected when you trust them with communication that matters to them. Show them respect by keeping them in the loop.
Tell what’s happening—and why. When people understand a situation, even if it’s bad, they feel more empowered to be part of a solution. Communicate with candor and depth.
Have a strong system for tracking and feedback. It’s important to track what information goes out when and what feedback follows. Follow President Reagan’s maxim: Trust but verify. Make sure people know everything they need to know and that they have opportunities to share their responses.
Communication is key to your success as a leader. Don’t let preventable mistakes get in your way.
Lead from within: Effective communication is perhaps the most important of all leadership skills. It connects teams and information, and it builds morale.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.