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For Better Leadership Communication, Put a Different Device in Your Hand

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For Better Leadership Communication, Put a Different Device in Your Hand

The fact that each of us has continually at hand, if not in hand, devices that practically beg to announce our every thought or emotion immediately upon conception represents one of the greater latent dangers to our reputations, if not careers. Put simply, the fact that we can emote nonstop doesn’t mean we should, particularly if we occupy a leadership role and have others looking to us for guidance and good example.

Though we have more communications capacity at our disposal than ever, most of us do a poorer job of actually making meaning. This occurs at a time when institutional knowledge is leaving our organizations at an unprecedented rate. (According to the BLS, about 100,000 Americans quit their jobs daily!) And it shows.

For a small proof of concept, ask a representative sample of your workforce to list the organization’s three (3) top priorities. Then, compare their answers. They won’t match!  To wit, how are you ever going to accomplish those things if people don’t know what they are? Your people want to read mysteries, not live them! We can, and must do a lot better.

If a significant portion of your outbound “content” does nothing more than add to the noise in the room, you’re stepping on your message, a clear danger in a world that is more distracted than ever, and where listening isn’t exactly in vogue. Worse, you’re branding yourself as a low-yield messenger.

Try this:

  1. Be more intentional in your messaging. Your messages should be crafted not merely to suit your own style or preferences, but for the intended audience. Hearts and minds are captured one at a time, so don’t spray everyone with the same stuff, and don’t assume that a single coat is going to cover the subject.
  2. Get good with crayons. Seriously, think about how you would articulate your message if confined to doing so with an 8-pack of Crayolas. Painting your message in simple, broad, colorful strokes is anything but dumbing it down. Rather, it’s genius, because it is more easily understood and remembered. So which would you rather have, a non-ending string of big words, or big, long-lasting take-aways?
  3. Listen (really listen) for signs of message comprehension and watch for acknowledgement. The questions (or lack thereof), facial gestures, and body language of your audience will speak volumes about the quality of your transmission. You’ll know when it’s getting through.
Bill Catlette

Bill Catlette, @ContentedCows is an executive coach and business author who helps clients build lasting competitive edge by eliminating blind-spots and improving leadership habits.

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