Communication is an essential component of good leadership.
Epictetus reminds us to listen: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Peter Drucker reminds us to REALLY listen: “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”
Scott Peck reminds us to focus: “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”
King Solomon reminds us that it’s work: “Give me the gift of a listening heart.”
Communication is the foundation of all that we do in leadership on a daily basis. We communicate to our team members, our customers, our partners, our supervisors, our directors and we communicate with ourselves.
I think we take communication for granted. We assume that because we are in a position of leadership, we must be good communicators. The reality is that we can ALWAYS be a BETTER communicator.
I guarantee that at some time or another, you will have a misunderstanding, a conflict or a crisis because of YOUR mistake with communication.
In my life, one of my weaknesses is that I rely on email as my main source of communication. I would rather write a note than talk with someone on the phone. I think this comes from living overseas and learning to rely on email instead of face-to-face or phone calls. I’m trying to adjust, however I like email. It gives me a record of our communication, it allows me to think through what I’m saying as I write, and I can communicate at anytime from anywhere on the planet. The downside is that it’s hard to hear my “tone” when I’m writing, and it’s hard to hear my “heart” in an email. These 2 things are critical to communication, and because I prefer email, I’m really not communicating that way.
I recently read an article by Lee Froschhelser with Map Consulting. In his article, Froschhelser talks about some checkpoints to use when communicating by email or letter. He encourages everyone to consider these barriers when using written communication. Check your document with this list:
* Lack of respect by either party for the other
* Poorly defined purpose for the communication
* Failure to establish the best medium for the communication (e-mail and cell phones are NOT the best ways to communicate serious material)
* Assumption that the listener receives the message
* Ignored emotions or sensitivities
* Failure to get on the listener’s level of understanding
* Intimidation by either party
If I want to be a better leader, I have to learn to communicate more effectively, and if I’m using my preferred method of email, then I need to work harder to make sure that I’m considering all aspects of my communication.
Be a better leader. Work at good communication.
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