You want to lead effectively. You cannot do so without becoming an outstanding communicator. Effective communication starts with self-awareness, grows by shaping the soul of your organization, and is embraced through creativity and repetition.
Self-awareness. Some might say you just don’t communicate. If that’s the case, it may be because you are more introverted than extroverted. Introverted and intuitive thinkers sometimes are not aware of how little they actually communicate. It’s almost like you expect others to read your inner thoughts.
You may be more extroverted than introverted. Your thoughts often live on the outside but lack focus. Sometimes people have difficulty knowing exactly what you think because you think about a lot of things – out loud. More focus and intentionality is needed.
Please don’t be discouraged by these possible assessments; instead, become more self-aware!
Soul. Your organization has a soul. A soul is a complete entity consisting of mind, emotions, and the resulting will or power to act out its thoughts and plans. The effective leader understands the soul is to be shaped. Left alone, the organization evolves by itself. The self-evolving culture is determined by everything other than thoughtful process and intentionality.
The question, “How did we get here?” is often heard in the midst of angst, confusion, and trouble.
Personal Confession. Let me pause for a moment and confess. This particular subject: “Effective Communication” has become one of my most important leadership topics because of past failures.
My learning in this area has come in three seasons of growth:
- Early Years: I performed and then explained what I did and why I did it. This is what I would call intuitive and activating leadership. It was effective as a performer but not as a leader.
- Should Have Known Better Years: I learned about the soul of organizations. I learned how important it was to think as an organization (vision, mission, values). I learned the true test of organizational thinking is how well our emotions (under stress) aligned with our mind – predetermined shape. I learned “will power” was the sum of how well the mind and the emotions aligned. So what was my mistake? It wasn’t a conscious mistake but my behavior revealed the work was done. Once the direction was written and stated, it was done. How ridiculous is that? It’s like a man saying to his bride, “I already told you that I love you, so I’ll let you know if it ever changes!”
- Mentoring & Coaching Years: First of all, we never stop learning. Second, the soul (mind, emotions, and will) of an organization is dynamic, never static. It is a daily subject. It is the compass of the organization. It requires constant monitoring. Behavior is the only reliable gauge revealing the true soul. In short, the effective communicator not only shares the vision, mission, goals, and values of the organization, he or she pays attention to feedback loops to determine it’s true course. Constantly comparing organizational behavior with desired behavior informs the leader of what, how, and when to communicate.
Creativity and Repetition. Effective communication requires creativity. Think about it, even the most beautiful painting is often overlooked by those who see it everyday. Effective communication requires creativity because not all words, phrases, slogans, and visuals connect with every human temperament.
Repetition is about realizing the soul of your organization will be shaped by accident or by intentionality. It’s truly your choice but it takes work. It requires your attention and behavior every day. Even though you may not hear these words, your team members are asking these questions: “Who are we, where are we going, how are we doing, what are we learning, and how do “I” fit in to the bigger picture?”
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!