Senior leadership teams spend a great deal of time and effort on making the big choices for the company. These choices are critical to define the intent of the business, the values that guide behaviors, the products/services being delivered and to efficiently allocate resources to accomplish the desired outcomes. These strategic choices are the key drivers of the business.
Effective communication by leaders is the foundation to ensure there is sustained execution on these key decisions…playing the long game on key decisions is built on effective communication.
Many strategic initiatives like entering a new market, an acquisition, a corporate culture transformation, and the attainment of routine annual growth targets often fail because of an insufficient communication plan and/or the lack of discipline to do the unglamorous work of daily executing on the plan.
The hard work to tactically deliver effective leadership communication often becomes just an after-thought to the really “cool” work of leadership teams pontificating about various strategic choices, debating the choices, and then landing on some decisions.
A crucial component of every leader’s development plan should be to continually raise the bar on their own communication effectiveness. Unfortunately, this crucial component of a leader’s development is rarely emphasized and when it is, it is usually stuck far behind strategic thinking, product development efficiencies, capital allocation effectiveness, etc.
Here are some well-proven reminders to help all of us raise the bar on our communication effectiveness:
- Clarity: When leaders make decisions, they should be communicated very clearly to their teams. Big decisions like “Mission” “Values” “Priorities” etc. and the “why” behind those decisions should be clearly outlined and practically placed on various communication tools like websites, slide decks, pictures/images etc. so that teams have clear visible reminders of the big decisions made by leadership. Creativity in images and materials can assist leaders to further gain the hearts and minds of teams to remember and successfully execute on these decisions.
- Consistency: Leaders need to be consistent in verbal and written communications to reinforce these key decisions on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. The opening of a staff meeting, an employee briefing, a routine one on one discussion, and regular email communications are ideal times to consistently reinforce “our mission”, “our priorities for year” etc. Leaders need to maintain the discipline to use these routine touch points with their teams to reinforce the major decisions of the company. Too often leaders fail to use these routine touch points to reinforce the decisions because of the false assumption that people already “get it” and maybe getting tired of the message. It is important that leaders take advantage of every opportunity to communicate and reinforce the major decisions of the company.
- Progress: Nothing builds momentum like highlighting small steps of progress towards to goals outlined by leaders. Highlighting individual or team behavior that is consistent with “our values” helps to set an example for others to follow. Seeing and hearing about milestones being accomplished as stepping stones towards a product launch or some major initiative is tremendously energizing for teams. By consistently providing clear updates on progress towards goals, leaders can create the necessary energy and commitment from the team to ensure success in hitting objectives and driving towards the key goals of the company.
Today’s leaders need to maintain a strong focus on improving their communication effectiveness. Making major strategic decisions is often the easy part. Ensuring those decisions are effectively communicated with clarity, consistency, and progress updates to ensure successful execution is quite often where leaders fall short.
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