Communication – What does this word mean? Merriam-Webster has at least 6 separate, yet related definitions for the word, “Communication”. For the purpose of this post, here is the definition we will use:
"a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior"
A leader is expected to communicate clearly, with precision and accuracy, and in a very succinct manner. He or she also needs to bond with those whom they serve in a very authentic, and vulnerable manner. This communication is needed to inspire, inform, and connect. Effective communication is an invaluable tool, but are you being intentional with every communication effort?
Mark Sanborn, in his book, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, points out, “Effective leaders know what they want to accomplish with every conversation they have, every email, phone call, or speech.” We can sometimes believe that if we impress someone with our knowledge, then we will gain respect. I know that I have fallen into the trap of attempting to be the smartest person in the room. However, an effective leader should be looking to influence those around them with every communication opportunity. Before a conversation starts, or an email is composed I should know, “How am I trying to influence my audience and how can I be most effective towards that end?” As Stephen F. Covey would remind us, “Begin with the end in mind.”
There is so much more to effective communication than I will attempt to cover. For now I will leave you with some questions.
In your communications, are you looking to show how smart you are, or seeking to influence others towards their professional and personal growth?
Do you know your audience, and have you gained an understanding how to best influence them?
Are you communicating from the heart, with an authentic and vulnerable mind-set?
Are you open to authentic feedback in actively listening as part of your communication efforts?
Effective communication is essential for great leadership. It takes consistent discipline and effort. Like all other parts of leadership, communication is an art that only gets better with diligent, patient, and persistent practice.
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