A Foundation for Developing Leadership Communication SkillsJun 20, 2022
At this point, I feel like I’ve pounded the drum loudly enough about communication being a responsibility we can’t duck if we expect to lead anyone around us. And I think you’re probably on the same page with me that the messages we send as leaders are far more than just what we say… Hopefully I’ve dispelled any remaining notion that you’re only responsible for what you say, not for what they understand!
So what skills do we need to develop if we really want to make sure the messages we’re sending are indeed received and understood by each of our team members? Having just shared how much more effective our leadership communication can be when we follow The Platinum Rule by sharing our message the way our team members need to receive rather than what’s easiest or most natural for us, let’s look at how we can make the rubber meet the road…
Have you ever met someone who seems like they’re just a natural when it comes to connecting with people and getting their message across? Of course! We all have. And how frustrating is that for those of us who don’t feel like we have anything resembling their talent? I’ll answer that question too - it’s incredibly frustrating!!!
With that in mind, here’s a word of hope I heard John Maxwell share more than a decade ago in Everyone Communicates, Few Connect that I’ve tried to keep in front of me every day since. He “connecting is more skill than natural talent. Connecting is something anyone can learn to do, but one must study communication to improve it.” John went to emphasize that “it’s no accident. You cannot expect to succeed through dumb luck!”
Consider what John shared through a sports lens… We can all think of several examples of athletes with loads of natural talent who never achieved their potential because they weren’t willing to put in the work. And I’ll bet we can all list a few superstars who started out with modest skills - at best - but became great because they worked circles around everyone else. Thank God that approach doesn’t just apply to sports!
To this day, I believe my transition from safety to human resources was a smooth one because I had invested a tremendous amount of time and energy into knowing everyone in the facility I worked at. But that didn’t happen just because I wanted a bunch of friends; I had watched a few of my mentors at the time do that same thing. In fact, I recently ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in over twenty years who worked with one of those mentors just prior to him retiring (my mentor, not my friend). When I asked if he knew this person, he commented on him being the one manager he had ever known to spend time on their shop floor and get to know every employee by name. My friend said that single thing had earned this manager more respect in the facility than anyone before or since.
I promise you that learning to know everyone in a large facility like is never based on dumb luck! It takes a TON of very intentional effort - I know that firsthand… But I also know how powerful the results can be when we’re willing to do it. To this day, I work extremely hard to learn to know everyone we interact with; and I even get frustrated with myself when I’m not able to put a name and a face together afterward!
While learning to know each team member shows that you value them and it serves to develop some common ground, it also gives you a foundation for one of the most powerful leadership communication skills I’ve found to date - and that’s where we’ll pick up next time…