Tomorrow I’m facilitating a webinar for the Texas MBA+ Leadership Program entitled, “Communicate Like the Leader You Are.” As I’ve been preparing for this webinar, I have thought a lot about why this topic is so important.
The reality is that many leaders communicate primarily from their own comfort zones and often expect the audience to keep up. This is especially true when leaders are tired, stressed, sick, and/or overwhelmed. Why? Because it takes a significant amount of energy to be an adaptive communicator. It requires thought and attention to try to understand the person you’re communicating with, to read his or her nonverbals, and to listen for what isn’t being said.
There are times when I do this well; however, when I think about my most significant leadership failures, all of them were failures of communication. I didn’t adapt to my audience. I didn’t consider where they were coming from or what they might need. I said what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it. I was stubborn and impatient. And it didn’t work. It caused communication breakdowns that took time to fix, more time than it would have taken to communicate like the leader I know that I am.
My Lesson Learned: The best leaders have a high level of self-awareness and the ability to adapt their communication style to the needs of the audience. When their intuition tells them they don’t have the energy to communicate effectively, they either wait to communicate OR dig deep and really focus on making the communication a reflection of their leadership.
The reality is all this: All of my communication is a reflection of my leadership. I’m striving to make sure it’s the right reflection. I know that I won’t always succeed, but when I fail, I hope I have the courage to apologize and make it right.
What do you think? Why is communication one of the hallmarks of effective leadership? What does it mean to communicate like the leader you are?