“All great communicators are great leaders, but not all leaders are decent communicators, let alone great ones.” Whoever said that was a genius. (In all honestly, I might have said it, but I’m still not sure if it’s an original. So, I’ll let someone else bear the brunt for this.)
I’m convinced that a leader’s most significant assumption is that communication has taken place; because they showed up on stage and delivered a riveting speech (at least in their minds) or a presentation. And hey, they even got a standing ovation.
As a leader, communication ensures that I have conveyed my ideas and thoughts to the people who need to hear it. And I will go to the moon and back to ensure they understand what and why behind the ideas I shared, which means there will be a dialog, an opportunity to ask questions, and, most notably, a platform where they can voice their concerns. Don’t expect to have any influence if you aren’t doing or willing to do this.
There’s a reason why presidential debates are a hit. The events get to the heart of the matter and allow the leaders to strike a chord (or cut them) in people’s hearts and minds. Sadly, you don’t get to see those for the next four years because the president doesn’t have time for debates — there’s a world to be saved!
But if you’re not a president or prime minister of a country, I don’t care who you are or what you do; you’ve got to make time to communicate your ideas well. If possible, over-communicate, more so if you are an organization with less than 500 people.
Now, this might mean you are forming smaller focus groups and meeting each of them to clarify, address concerns, and persuade why your (or the board’s or senior leadership’s) ideas are great for the organization and it’s people. It’s a time-intensive process but goes a long way in establishing trust in you, the leader, and your leadership.
Doable? Absolutely. But as with most things, it’s not a common practice, which is a challenge because one of the biggest gripes of any staff is that they don’t get to interact with the organization’s leadership. Worse, they haven’t seen or heard from their leader in the past 19-24 months! The challenges may be genuine, of course. Still, as a leader, your number one responsibility is to communicate; number 2 is to build leaders around you. You can’t develop leaders without communication.
If you can’t communicate, someone else needs to on your behalf to make things happen. That’s non-negotiable. But communicate you must, not just a speech or a presentation, but much more.