Key Leadership Trait #3 – Communication

communicationsAs part of my series on the top 10 leadership traits, according to Forbes Magazine, we now move on to my favourite… communication.

 

This is, admittedly, a huge area that could address numerous aspects of communications skills and practices for leaders but today we focus my top three:
– keeping everyone tuned into the ‘vision’
– presenting well
– managing change

 

Clear communication about the strategy and the plan builds a healthy and strong corporate culture. When everyone knows what we are doing, why we are doing it and how we are doing it, work gets done faster, easier and with less confusion. I call this the “Execution Culture” and it develops from a strong execution engine. That engine is oiled from the style, breadth and method of communication throughout the organization. Great leaders cultivate a strong ‘execution culture’.

 

“Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.” Forbes – Entrepreneurs.

 

I wrote in this blog two weeks ago that trust is crucial to the success of any organization. In that piece I quoted a survey by The Discovery Group, a company specializing in employee opinion surveys that found that 52% of employees don’t believe the information they receive from management. Misinformation festers a lack of trust.” So it is not just how you communicate, it is what you communicate.

 

Good communication skills invite respect. One of the most important communication skills for a leader of people is presenting. Early in my professional career I learned how to present in public. I didn’t know then how important these skills would be to my professional career. (In fact it has become the key ingredient to the next phase of my life as I launch my professional speaking career.)

 

Everyone who leads people needs to be able to present well. I have heard it said that only 20% of the population are comfortable public speaking. Well, regardless of the number, we are not talking about professional public speaking. We are talking about a comfort level to be able to stand, with notes, and comfortably, clearly and powerfully deliver a message. This is a skill that can be taught. Watch the movie The King’s Speech some day and you will see what I mean. Go out and get some training. Join Toastmasters, talk to small groups. However you do it, you need to be able to present well if you want to garner resect from your people. Great presentation skills garner respect.

 

A systematic process of communicating information within an organization is critical when something goes wrong. Change happens. Problems occur. And as the times get tough, communicating the problem and the solution clearly and quickly is essential. There are some industries out there that breed change and disruption. Software development, the telecommunications industry, government regulated or controlled programs. A new rule, a new technology or a new competitor can change everything. When it happens, a well-oiled communications engine that knows how to handle change is critical. A great leader will build this communication engine within the team.

 

So why did Forbes magazine rate communication as the #3 top quality of a great leader?
– Clear communication about the strategy and the plan builds a healthy and strong corporate culture.
– Good communication skills invite respect
– A systematic process of communicating information within an organization is critical when something goes wrong.

 

What does your communication engine look?

 

Graphics provided courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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