Communication, the skill of great leaders.

As a leader I have had feedback from team members that we need more communication. This has happened from time to time and is always a piece of valued feedback, but at the same time it has always brought a question to mind.

Do we really need more communication?

I really don’t think so, but it has shown me that we do need is to communicate clearer, and make sure we’ve got the people with us.
You see, more communication doesn’t mean better communication. I have just lost an important bill because due to one of my filters that block out commercials. I get so much information that I missed the one I wanted. Yes I know I can unsubscribe to these e-mails and after this experience I did do so.
I know people that talk so much that they have a hard time listening intently for a long time. I am always afraid that I may lose some important info in all the communication.
I am also bombarded with all kinds of communication on a daily basis; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and my news feed, but do I retain what is important?
Well we can all go wild on information, whether it’s on the news feed or on facebook, but what do we do when people want more communication?

What I hear from this statement is that we need to communicate clearer and that we’ve somehow missed it.

Not long ago I offered to promote a school that was run by a mainstream colIege. I told the person in charge that there was no information out in our area, and their response put me off, because instead of listening to my observation the person said that there was info out and but that I must have missed it. I told the person that it may well be so, but my observation still stood firm as at his school there weren’t many students from my area. How is it that only I had missed out?

Good leaders communicate, and they listen when people ask for more or clearer communication. This is a feedback we as leaders often get, and that shows how important communication is. I don’t think we need more communication and I don’t think we should over communicate either. I hear this, but to me a good leader goes to see the people, and communicates with the people that way. My email can be full, my phone can ring all the time, but when people come and sit down ask how I am doing that’s when we start the real communication, face to face, person to person. And it’s only after that if I get a follow-up email, phone call and I know that behind the communication there is a leader that cares and wants my life to be better and I know that we can go far together.

All leadership teams that don’t meet face to face will sooner or later run into becoming a dysfunctional team, and what they lead to will most likely reflect their dysfunction. Leaders that fail to communicate to their people will most of the time not lead them. And that is when you get positional leadership and titles, but no function.
I have made some points that I think are important for leadership to communicate:

1. You as a leader need to communicate that you believe in the people you lead. That is so important to communicate, that trust that you have, the confidence that they are there for you and you are there for them. Their insight and wisdom is what you are after and not what they can do, or what you can ask them to do.

2. You communicate face to face – all other ways is for follow up and further information. All social media, chat and e-mails are far down the list in your way of communicating. We need physical meeting points to build trust and life, to get inspired and to communicate what culture, values and vision we want to create together.

3. Communicate what is important, the culture of your organisation (or wanted culture) values and vision. Let communication be based around what is important to your organisation and your leadership of it. If you don’t know what culture you have or want, then pursue the work that needs to be done, the same with values and vision. But too often we communicate without thinking if it is important to us or not.. and if’s not, it’s taking away the attention off what is important.
Culture, values and vision can never be communicated enough, and when you feel like a broken record you are getting close…

4. We, as leaders, have the responsibility to communicate, and also to get people alongside us. Nobody misses your point or is not giving in to what you are saying deliberately. If people don’t get it, change your way of saying it, or doing it. Don’t blame anyone for not being there, like that school leader did with me, whilst my intention was only to help him and his school to get more students.

5. Not saying anything, is also communicating. I often run into leaders that are not present or are absent for longer periods of time. This is dysfunctional and will lead to a breakdown of what they are supposed to lead. You see, absence or not saying anything also communicates something. That is why leadership is an active role, and you are out there communicating. In a marriage it is the same. If my wife is silent in a conversation, I would often say, “what are your thoughts.. I cannot read them”.. the last sentence I add only if I am annoyed and it doesn’t necessarily help…just for your information.
Meet, talk and dialogue is the best way of communicating and that is what will take your leadership forward.

6 I will add nr 6…. As a side track, but since I often hear this from leaders as an excuse more than anything else, I want to mention it. I hear “but we don’t have time for meetings or my leadership team can’t find time to meet”. Time can always be found, if it’s important enough then make it good and important enough so that people set it as a priority to meet.
“But some work evenings and some work day time, and some are gone in the weekends” – if you don’t meet then what you lead it is in danger of becoming dysfunctional, breaking down and not flourishing. How about 6 am? Anyone working then? We are back to what is important to you as a leader and how you will make it work. Don’t expect everyone to be making your team a priority, people often have many obligations, like family, work and other commitments, but make sure they have a culture that celebrates them, a value system that lifts them up and a vision that will make a dot in the universe.. When the mentality is if I’m not there by 5.55am I’m already late…

Till next time let’s do less and still more, let’s communicate what is important to us.

Rune Saether

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