Real communicating

Nov 28 2002 by Print This Article

How would you rate communication within your organisation? A force for clarity and commitment or for confusion and opting out? What’s your style? Energetic and personal or formal, jargon riddled and stolid?

Communicating is one of the leadership skills for the 21st century and how well you do it will affect your success. Communicating well brings clarity, builds confidence, and develops trust and commitment. Done poorly, or not at all, it confuses, demotivates and disillusions.

The way you communicate, (or not!), reflects your culture, values and management style. As such, it affects performance, your ability to implement change and even your ability to attract and retain staff.

The trouble with words is they don’t always say what they mean.

Managers are your most powerful communicating channel. Research has shown that your manager creates up to 70 per cent of work climate, and that climate has a direct impact on performance.

In the 90’s, charismatic leadership was the order of the day - inspiring people to follow your vision. The latest thinking suggests a more considered self-effacing approach brings longer lasting results.

‘Self-effacing, quiet, reserved even shy – these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar’ Jim Collins, ‘Good to Great’

Today’s leaders recognise that real communicating is dialogue – asking the right questions and deep listening. It’s not just lip service - an opportunity to ‘have your say’. To be listened to, to be really heard, is a powerful experience. It generates confidence, builds trust and encourages innovation.

Telling is the ‘old’ approach and creates resistance. It also saves people from having to think. In the results driven highly pressured work environment it may seem that ‘telling’ someone the answer seems the quickest solution, and many of us a predisposed to switch into solution mode. Although it appears easy, it may not be the best approach. It is unreasonable to expect one person to have all the answers. It may flatter your ego to be approached time and time again, but it can’t be good for your workload or stress levels, and you’re reducing the interest and challenge. Are you really making the best use of your team’s brain power?

Asking open questions encourages your team to think for themselves. And asking ‘clean’ questions (the ultimate open question untainted with your own perceptions) raises a whole new level of awareness, learning and innovation, and consequently, interest, commitment and performance.

Principles of real communicating

  • Managers are your most powerful communication channel
  • Know yourself and your style
  • Focus on your audience
  • Be clear concise and sharply to the point
  • Commitment and enthusiasm come from within.

Real communicating
‘I talk you listen’ ‘You talk I listen’
‘Have your say’ Be heard
Let me tell you Let me ask you
Presentation Facilitation and dialogue
Confusion and lip service Clarity and commitment
Uncertainty and resistance Trust
My vision Our vision