Executive Communication: 6 Strategies for Communicating As a Leader
by Dianna Booher
The essence of leadership is communication. Although Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader covers four “part” to developing and strengthening the ability to persuade, influence, and connect, it’s not surprising how often readers thumb through that book and comment on how many of the skills have to do with “communication.” Then they often launch into a story about a coworker, boss, or client who personifies these characteristics, habits, attitudes, or traits.
They’ll get no argument from me! That’s the “why” behind the book’s subtitle. Let’s get specific.
Keep Your Commitments.
Granted, things come up that can keep you from keeping your word and following through on a promise made off-handedly in a staff meeting or in the hallway. Facts may surface that cause you to reverse a decision. But if breaking commitments becomes more than an exception to the rule, you’ll lose credibility quickly. Leaders honor their words.
Respond With Intention.
Speak your mind only after reasoned thoughtfulness. Impulsive comments and emotional reactions not only make it more difficult to “keep your commitments” but also mark you as a shallow thinker. Leaders listen, analyze, and then act with purpose.
Address the Elephant in the Room.
Others tip-toe around tough topics. They fear to say the wrong thing or to ask sensitive questions, so they substitute silence for significance. Leaders have learned to voice what others feel and think, and have the courage to put it on the table so others can chew on it in bite-size chunks without fear of reprisal – - or answers.
Tell the Truth About Mistakes and Failures.
Be upfront about bad news, goals unmet, financial plans gone awry. The world is crammed full of people willing to tell you about their accomplishments and successes. To stand out as a leader, talk turkey about mistakes and failures. Tell people about lessons learned and how you’ve applied those lessons to future ventures and thinking.
Give Feedback That Balances Perspective.
Make feedback a priority. Carve out time for it, and set up a process to give your employees encouragement for what they’re doing well and to provide direction where they’re floundering. They themselves don’t often speak up. Instead, they walk out.
Ask Questions That Inspire Performance.
Leaders don’t have all the answers nor do they need to pretend they do. Instead, great leaders ask challenging, but inspiring questions. Examples: “What would happen if we no longer did X?” “How much money could we save if we started to Y?” “œCan you think of ways to improve what we now offer to customers in the way of Z?”
Leaders connect and motivate by how they communicate.