Communication, emotions, decision-making

Why your leadership communication needs to be better today

Leaders’ decision-making and the communication that goes with it are often criticised.

Photo by Jan Genge on Unsplash

Especially when talent is scarce in the market, it is even more important that your communication as a leader is exemplary. Today, a few statements, a few actions, a demonstrated behaviour can make the difference between a satisfied workforce and a high employee turnover. The complaints about leadership communication are omnipresent and multi-faceted.

What does matter in communication today?

Decisions

The main criticism, which is often fully justified, is that many managers are too hesitant or do not make decisions. Instead, they try to avoid making a decision; after all, any decision could be wrong (note: this is part of a manager’s job, and no sensible organisation will fire you after just one wrong decision). Necessary decisions are often ignored or, if necessary, wildly delegated. Backward and forward delegations are practised, often without a set of rules, until the tasks have reached the senior executive level at some point, after far too long. Of course, this level cannot decide anything about the task and assigns a person one level below to decide. You can imagine how wrong and impractical such decisions are.

Communication

Communication usually is not much better. Managers keep their heads down in a nebulous and unclear manner. The subjunctive is booming and between rhetorical outpourings such as “Someone should take a look at how we are getting on with the project” and constantly admonishing “The deadline cannot be postponed under any circumstances”, the often-quoted phrase “We believe in you and support you where we can” is usually the final say. Of course, this support does not include more staff, time, or budget. Thus, vocal support is given where it is possible, but always without resources. An Eldorado of content-free nonsense that is far away from delivering excellent or even appropriate leadership.

(Note: all examples mentioned above have happened in real projects, no example is older than six months).

Leadership

Excellent leaders position themselves better.

Decisions include clear directional guidelines — yes, no, will be done, will not be done, we are going to A, we are developing in direction B. Clear decisions to include a goal that everyone can understand. Almost any decision is better than no decision (exception: decisions can be delayed if new information can be expected very soon — no delays without specification of why and when you move forward to make your decision!).

Communication is as direct as possible; names or at least teams are mentioned in the designations of tasks. Communication is not just a game of “everyone takes everyone for everything in CC”, but there is an adapted mix of meetings, online and offline, group and individual discussions.

Emotions are taken into account and always addressed where appropriate, whether private, professional or social. Offers of help are made and become part of the organisational culture. Unfortunately, empathy is not given to every leader, and it is correct that empathy cannot be learned. However, empathic behaviour can be learned. Norms, values, behaviours, what is accepted and what is not, these aspects are known to leaders. To ignore these aspects shows an unacceptable attitude of denial.

Always keep one aspect in mind: in the competition for talent, in the age of remote work or work from anywhere, every organisation with an internet connection is a potential competitor.

Strengthen your communication, approach, handling of emotions, and decision-making competence. Your social legitimisation and thus recognition as a leader will immediately benefit from it.

More on leadership communication in
this week’s podcast: click here to listen and learn.

Is excellent leadership communication important to you?
Let’s talk: NB@NB-Networks.com.

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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.