Effective Communication: Old News or Back to Basics? Part 2

by Pamela on January 28, 2010

Successful Leadership Starts with Effective Communication

To be a successful leader, you must practice effective communication. I should just end the post here. I’ll say it again: to be a successful leader, you must practice effective communication.

This is one of my favorite topics and I dare say I WILL beat it to death. Effective communication is an issue I focus on in many of my sessions. Most people don’t even realize that they aren’t being clear. When I point it out, it’s often an epiphany. Not all successful leaders are effective communicators by nature. If you’re dedicated, you can learn and develop the skills. If you own a small business and you’re not an effective communicator, you can hire an expert to help you (hint, hint). Hey it’s my blog- I can plug myself.

Did you know that most conflicts in the workplace can be traced directly to poor communication? If you only have a few employees (under 10), being clear is especially important for you. You don’t have multiple layers of management- the buck stops with you. In small businesses, employees are often expected to wear several hats and pitch in where they’re needed. This is common, however it can lead to ‘fuzzy’ parameters. They may not know where they stand from day to day. It’s your job, as a successful leader, to make sure everyone is focused on a common goal.

You must clearly articulate your goals, so that everyone works toward something concrete. Recognize that as your business moves forward and you take action, those goals may change. When your goals change, you have to let your employees know what the new and improved goals are. People don’t learn through osmosis.

You also need to put policies in place. Why is that necessary? Because people like to know what’s expected of them. I would argue that sharing your policies when you interview someone will help to weed out those who may not be a good fit. Your policies set the tone for the workplace. It’s called ‘corporate culture.’ Even small businesses have a corporate culture.

I once worked for a company whose president was, for all intents and purposes, a dictator. He ran a company of 850 people, worldwide. In the interview, HR told about his many policies, quirks, and non-negotiables. It was clear that it was his company and he ran it his way. I knew that if I couldn’t fall in line, I wouldn’t fit into the corporate culture of this company. I decided to give it a try. I never expected that he would tell me he hated certain colors and and I was not to use them in any of the ads I created. I also never expected that he would personally approve every press release I wrote and make me stick to a boring, formulaic format. It’s been 8 years and some of those retched press releases are still floating around. UGH.

No, I couldn’t find many redeeming qualities about that man. He was a crass, insensitive, bully. I can say that he was a successful leader because everyone knew what he expected from them. No ambiguity. His policies and idiosyncrasies may have been stupid in my eyes, but dammit, you knew where he stood at all times.

What I’m say here is very basic. It’s nothing new. I harp on it because being a good, clear communicator continues to allude many successful leaders.

So, what’s your message? How well do you communicate it? What are the goals of your small business? Do people know what you want? Do they know what you expect of them?

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