Or, perhaps I should say that one of the main roles of a leader is to communicate exceptionally well. Because of the nature of leadership being about setting vision, guiding people to get there, and working through issues along the way, communication becomes a key part of that that process of leadership. Whether a leader primarily communicates in person to her team, by email, video, or even blog posts, the important thing is that a leader communicate well.
After a little thought I quickly realized that there are four reasons leaders must communicate:
- Communication shares vision: The primary way (and perhaps the only way) you can share your vision is with communication. The leader is the primary one responsible to share the vision with others. If a leader does not share the vision by communicating it, the odds are that no one else will. One thing I learned from Andy Stanley is that every time you communicate, it is an opportunity to share your vision. Regardless of the topic you are communicating about, you have a chance to tie that topic back into the vision you have set for your organization.
- Communication shows that the leader is brave: This might seem obvious, but the the fact is that most people hate both public speaking and being disliked. Since most people are terrified of public speaking it automatically gives the leader some type of authority and respect among staff because most people are not willing to stand up in front of a crowd and give a talk. Additionally, most people are civil enough to know that they will not always agree with the leader, and that is okay. They realize that humans are different and that their opinion might not always be the same as the leader. When a leader takes time to communicate key issues to staff, regardless of the topic and how staff might agree or disagree, it shows that the leader is brave to take that stance and put herself out to be vulnerable for attack.
- Communication keeps people motivated: Work can be difficult and workers can feel as if they are trudging through a swamp just trying to get their work done every day. The commute some people have to do just to get to work can even be a stressful and day-ruining experience before the workers even arrive to work! When a leader is able to communicate often about key things she is able to keep people motivated. Talking about the vision everyone is working towards, why the company does the work that it does, and how employees’ individual work plays a role in the overall vision are all things that will keep people motivated to work hard. Without communication, those things will not be talked about and thus motivation for work is lost.
- Communication brings to light problems and helps to solve them: This one fascinates me because it does not make sense. There is a special synergy that happens when problems are brought up in a meeting where the leader is communicating important information. As someone once said, “None of us are as smart as all of us.” When a leader is talking to her staff about vision, or day to day operations, and someone raises his hand to share a problem, it is always surprising at how many good solutions to the problem arise. Even if the leader does not have an idea to solve the problem, she has the authority to commission people and money to help solve it. Yet, that is often not needed. The simple act of bringing up a problem among a group of people with the leader present allows others in the room to contribute ways to solve the problem. It always surprises me the knowledge and intelligence that so-called “non-knowledge workers” have.
These are four simple reasons that I believe leaders must communicate. However, this list is not exhaustive.
Question: What other reasons do you believe leaders must communicate?