Leaders' Words

"One learns people through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect." — Mark Twain For effective leaders, personal communications is the window to their hearts, minds, and souls.  Discerning employees, and they are all discerning, will see their leaders for the true selves, which is offered through personal leader communications.  It is much more than the details of the business and organization that are transmitted by the words of leaders. It is the essence of their personalities and characters, their hearts, hopes, fears, cares, convictions, principles, and desires.  Employees see all of this, and more.

Leaders’ words must be accurate and precise, measured and heartfelt, not given to hyperbole but clear in the conviction and purpose of the moment.  Leaders' words must come from empathy for the employees, deeply rooted in an appreciation for the audience, their circumstances, the last things they heard and how it was understood and internalized.

Repetition and consistency are the life blood of leaders' words; familiar themes and oft discussed points and views are comfortable, comforting, and reassuring to audiences of all types in everyone organization.  Simple and clear explanations speak volumes to unspoken fears and rumors, pre-empting the inevitable rumor mills and idle gossip that does so much to erode morale and confidence in the organization and its leaders.

Explaining organizational decisions in terms of the "greater good" and the need to ensure the overall health of the many and the long term success of the organization are powerful messages that will resonate well in every company.  Almost everyone understands that mission and team are higher order organizational objectives that ultimately help everyone to succeed and prosper.

Explain the trade offs involved in tough calls, people understand hard choices if they know what they are; tell them.  Inform employees directly. Understand that your vision and message is lost or diluted as it passes through the layers of an organization.  Ask employees two or three levels below what they are being told about your messaging.

Hear employee views, encourage respectful debate and skepticism.  Be transparent, don't sugar coat the bad news or minimize misdeeds or lapses, especially your own.  If you blow it, say so, and do it clearly; "I blew it, totally my fault, I should have done much better and will in the future."

And most of all, leaders’ words must match leaders' deeds in concept and detail to have credibility and to have meaning in the future.  Employees will remember everything you say, and I mean everything.  You need to remember too, and do what you said you would.  No kidding.

Just as a vacuum of effective leadership will eventually be filled by poor leadership, the absence of superior communications from leaders will likewise be replaced by lousy communications.

"The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel and misrepresentation." — C. Northcote Parkinson

Many thanks, Keith Stalder, #19

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