It is a myth that some people are leaders, and others are not. The truth is: we all lead. We may be only leading ourselves, but that is still leading. If you are a parent, ministry or team leader, run a business or have an official capacity at work you are a leader. Simply put a leader is the one in charge.
Regardless of your leadership role, successful communication matters. I am not talking about that ability to capture the attention of a crowd, convey vision, and inspire, although these are wonderful leadership skills. I am talking about that the way you interact with people in a personal way.
Communication can nurture your relationships and boost your credibility or it can destroy your relationships and credibility.
Here are four sure fire ways I see leaders shooting themselves in the foot resulting in a limp that forever hinders their leadership:
1. Making empty promises
In the last week, I have encountered several leaders who made promises to me that they did not keep. It was beyond frustrating! It created some unfortunate circumstances and it damaged my trust in those individuals. Because of unfulfilled promises I have opted to take my business elsewhere.
Where have you experienced empty promises? What effect has it had on your relationships either personal or business related?
Things do come up that sometimes make following through with a promise impossible. In such cases, it is incredibly important to immediately communicate what the situation is and how you will make things right on your end. It might cost you in the short run, but not communicating will cost you even more in the long run.
2. Failing to establish expectations and give feedback
When things are not working the way I want them to, it is easy to blame others. If I am the leader, then how things are going is ultimately my responsibility. When things are not going well, more often than not it can be traced back to the fact that I did not clearly set expectations and I have not made it a habit to regularly give feedback to those I lead.
A lack of expectations and feedback plays out in all the places we lead including parenting. When kids are not behaving, most likely they have not been clearly told what they are to do and what will happen if they don’t comply. It is then necessary to follow through, and make good on your promise. Kids who regularly get feedback, both about their positive and negative behavior, are kids who are happier and more enjoyable to be around. The same is true for those you lead.
Knowing what is expected, what you did well, and helpful insights into how you can do better creates a sense of safety and security. It allows people to grow and perform in more desirable ways.
3. Communicating in unprofessional ways
As texting has become a more popular means of communicating, leaders have resorted to shorthand ways of writing in professional situations. While I enjoy the ease and speed of texting, and even sometimes take shortcuts when keeping up with family or friends, when communicating with people on a professional level it is important to do it with proper capitalization and punctuation.
Communicating in a more formal way, even in e-mails, conveys respect and that the person you are communicating with is important enough to take the time to do things correctly. It also demonstrates that you have the ability to communicate articulately. In this day and age you will set yourself apart in a powerful way. You don’t have to be stuffy, or someone you aren’t – you just have to communicate appropriately.
4. Creating Communication Voids
The adage “no news is good news” is just not true. When there is a lack of communication it creates a space for negative thoughts to sprout up and grow. Thoughts then color our choices and it only leads to more negativity.
Want to eliminate the potential for negative feelings? Following up promptly makes a difference. So does periodically checking in. Don’t let too much time go by with those you lead or those you have significant business relationships with. You will be surprised by the positive impact it has on your leadership.
What troubles you when it comes to communication? How does it impact your relationships either personally or professionally? What small step can you take improve your communication to be sure your leadership is not operating with a limp?