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Friday, March 03, 2006

Clear communication: a leader’s asset

In a time span of a couple of days, I came across a number of posts that talked aboutthe need for communication, clear communication specifically. For a leader, clear communication can help get a project finished, build team confidence, and head off misunderstandings before they become full-blown problems.

Let's start with this quote found at Fast Company: "If you expect those below to support your leadership and step into the breach when needed, they will need to understand your strategy, your methods, and your rules." --Michael Useem I've often found with the teams I lead that a little communication goes a long way in promoting trust and loyalty. When they can see where I'm coming from and where I'm heading, then they feel empowered to strike out and go above and beyond my expectations for them as they work toward helping me reach the end goal. They feel a part of things because they undertand what is going on. I also try to communicate when something has changed as soon as I'm aware of changes.

This post started by asking what one quality people looked for in a leader. The following gem showed up in the comments: Clarity is key. Clarity is the key component, because you need to have clarity in your communication to the people you lead, and to the people you serve, you need to have clarity of mission, purpose and passion so people want to follow you, and you need clarity of purpose to wade through all the information that will come your way to find the truth, or at least the most relevant information. Again, people respond well to someone who doesn't feel the need to be mysterious in passing along information. When they can see that you are clearly on a set path, and they can clearly see the path themselves, then they are more likely to follow willingly and do what it takes to get to that ending. Mysterious directions and unclear goals are best left to guided discovery teaching moments and scavenger hunts!

This post illustratres a few ways to not communicate clearly and links to a post on how not to have a conversation. I always like to assume my teams are composed of intelligent people who will understand me, or will ask for clarification if they're unsure. As I tend to surround myself with independent thinkers for the most part, this method works well for me. Occassionally, I get someone who needs to be directed or coached through every tiny thing, and even then I refuse to belittle them. I like questions.

The moral of the story: Communicate. Communicate clearly. Be willing to clarify when there is confusion.

Cross-posted to CareerNiche.

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