Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me! Then Show Me Again...

communication communication styles earning leadership effective communication influence leadership communication leadership responsibility trust types of communication why is communication important in leadership Jun 15, 2022
Types of Communication

Once we accept that it’s way more than what we say, there’s a lot more we’ll need to consider than just our tone and our body language. If we’re really leading the team members who are counting on us, they’ll be watching what we do when those words aren’t coming out of our mouths just as much as they’re watching our body language when we’re talking - and possibly even more!

I received several outstanding replies to the last post, each sharing experiences where someone had told them one thing then followed up with behaviors that were nowhere close to matching their words. I know all too well what they’re talking about, and I’m sure you do too! While there are some cases where the individual who does this has earned enough of our good will to get a brief pass, the folks who haven’t earned that kind of grace will likely lose any hope of gaining (or maintaining) our trust. For me, as an extremely task-oriented person, it’s nearly impossible to ever like someone I don’t trust. And if that old saying, “we do business with the people we know, like, and trust” is even close to true, it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll look to anyone as a leader if we don’t trust their words to line up with their deeds - especially if we don’t even want to do business with them…

So how does that fit what we’re showing the teams we’re working to lead? Do our behaviors during the times we’re not talking line up with the words, tone, and body language we use when the words are coming out? I assure you, everything we do - even when we think no one's watching - is communicating a message. Our actions are definitely a type of communication when we’re leading!

Don’t get me wrong here, everyone’s behavior communicates a message. And that behavior builds or tears down that individual’s influence with the people they interact with. Since leadership is influence (nothing more, nothing less according to John Maxwell), making sure we back our words with matching action is a huge part of whether or not anyone will ever follow us regardless of our position or title - or even our last name…

OK, Wes, I’m tracking with you here, but how can I make sure I’m getting my message across when I don’t get to talk with each member of my team on a regular basis?

Great question! In short, any and every possible way you can! I don’t think there’s any such thing as too much communication, at least when the message matters. We all know those folks who have a whole lot to say about nothing… I’m not talking about that because it’s fairly unlikely we’re looking to them for leadership anyway! When the message we need to send impacts the individuals on our team, especially when we don’t have the opportunity to talk with them face to face as often as we need to, we should be working to get our message to them through every channel we have access to. And even then, we’ll need to follow up to make sure they got it. Whether it’s through internal newsletters, bulletin board posts, emails, text messages, or even custom fortune cookies, there’s always a chance we’ll miss someone. However, using everything we have access to, and being very consistent about all that, can increase our odds of reaching them!

Then we just need to be sure we’ve presented it in way that matters to them, so that’s where we’ll pick up next time!