By CHRIS WESTFALL
For new leaders who inherit a team or are trying to maximise results for a current one, intelligent communication is the key to your success.
Here are ten leadership communication strategies that can change the conversation:
Prepare for success
“I had spent my entire life plotting and strategising how to become successful but hadn’t practised or spent a single day preparing for actually being successful,” says former Hollywood studio executive, Brant Pinvidic.
The producer of shows like Bar Rescue and Pawn Stars has seen his share of success. He says it all starts with defining what success really is.
Look in the direction of impact: after the team accomplishes x, what does that really mean to the company, the investors…and to your personal contribution?
Start with what’s known, to get to what’s new
“Remembering the past becomes useful if it gives us insight into future outcomes,” says Carmen Simon, PhD, in her latest book, Impossible to Ignore.
If you burn your hand on a stove, are all stoves bad? Of course not.
Stoves are neither good nor bad ‒ they are just stoves! Sometimes, leadership means separating useful historical information from current exaggeration. Because getting lost in old experiences can turn memory into a monster.
In this regard, the leader’s job is to help the team to look past what’s past. Have you ever had an experience go from a valuable lesson…to an artificial boundary around your life? Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at that stove ‒ and help your team to do the same.
Are you experienced?
Your skills and talents got you to where you are today. But your team is going to get you to tomorrow.
Your experience is probably pretty impressive, but the experience you create for others is the key to new results. Consider carefully the experience that matters most as you lead your team: Speak the language of your listener if you really want to be understood.
In the industrial production model (think Henry Ford), it was important for everyone on the assembly line to perform the same task, with the same tools, the same way.
In the modern work environment, away from the assembly line, there are many paths to the same destination. After all, the best way to get to Times Square will change if you are in SoHo (in Manhattan) or LoDo (in Denver).
Remember that, where a team member is right now, will always determine the first step. Even when the team’s destination is the same, there are many paths to the productivity you need.
IBM asked over 1,500 worldwide executives, “What’s the number one characteristic you look for in a leader?” In Capitalizing on Complexity, CEOs didn’t point to technical expertise, financial skills, empathy or charisma. The number one quality of leaders? Creativity.
In other words, the ability to identify creative solutions to the challenges of the marketplace. Since effective leaders create more leaders: how are you fostering and encouraging creativity ‒ and creative solutions ‒ from your team?
Access aspiration What are the aspirations of your team? What do the individuals you lead, aspire to create for themselves, their families, and your organisation?
We all have aspirational goals. Even if an employee always wants to find the path of least resistance, on some level that’s an aspiration for simplicity and efficiency.
Aspirational awareness is an important part of emotional intelligence ‒ and the key to driving new results.
Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge
Three valuable words in a new leader’s vocabulary; and they must be said (and demonstrated) if you are going to create real leadership impact.
“I see you.” Take every opportunity to catch someone doing something right and acknowledge the behaviour you wish to see more of. And remember, “I see you” is a close cousin of “I’m watching you” ‒ just in case a team member thinks he or she can get away with a less than stellar effort.
How do you use acknowledgement and observation to drive the behaviours you want, and drive out the behaviours you don’t?
Remember the fifth “P”
The marketing mix features four famous “P’s”: product, price, promotion, and place.
The leadership mix focuses on the fifth “p”: personalisation. How well do you understand the personal puts and takes of the team you manage?
Motivation on a personal level is what matters here. Can you identify what each person on your team really cares about, and phrase your outcomes in terms that speak their language?
Access your superpower
Consider that we all have the ability to anticipate. Without it, no one could exit a parking lot. As a leader, what do you anticipate for your team?
Identifying obstacles and empowering team members to find solutions is what a leader does. What does your team anticipate ‒ what obstacles do they see, that you don’t? After all, anticipation isn’t just your superpower ‒ we all have the ability to be heroes (if we choose to do so).
Ask for insights and learn from the experts on your team! It’ll help you to anticipate what’s next.
In the end…
Communication is the key to bringing your vision to life, and to providing the leadership support your team really needs.
For leaders today, it’s helpful to remember these words from Sunday in the Park with George:
If it’s only in your head;
If no one gets to see it,
It’s as good as dead.
Don’t let your team keep guessing about what you need, and what you expect, if you’re really preparing for success.
Your vision deserves to be shared ‒ with leadership skills that your entire team can understand.