Communication Essentials For Executives and General Managers
Are you an Effective Communicator (Leader)?
Leading others is a great responsibility because your entire organization is waiting to hear what you have to say so they can act in accordance with your direction. Success or failure is based on two basic criteria: The viability of your strategy, and your ability to communicate effectively. Effective Communication means your message must resonate, must be understood, must be continuous, and must fully disseminate through all levels of the organization in order for everyone to take part and follow your lead. Here are Six Communication Essentials for Effective Leaders.
1) Know ALL aspects of your business…Ask Questions.
Unless you have held every position in the company before taking your Executive Leadership position, you probably are better at one or two areas than others. Your background may be financial, operational or sales and marketing, but expert in all…doubtful. If you have an MBA, that will certainly give you an advantage in having an understanding of fundamentals of each business area, but it is still generic information. You need two deepen your credentials if you want to be able to Lead AND Implement successfully. That means you need to spend time in each department of your organization, understand it, the process flows, the people and the current tools that are used to manage effectively. With this information you will become a better boss to your management team and they will respect you for it because you will become the one person in the company that can tie everything together and pass that knowledge back to them.
2) Ensure a consistent message is UNDERSTOOD throughout your organization.
Great ideas do not become great successes if they are not implemented properly; it is the same for great strategies. Leaders are excellent communicators, but the people they communicate to may not be great leaders and the message may not filter properly from them to their employees. It is your responsibility to ensure all levels of your organization understand the same message. You need to create a network of ambassadors within your organization who understand and can pass the message properly. In many cases this is your middle management, not only your senior management. By having direct contact with the employees of your direct reports, you empower your organization. You direct the message to a larger group and you redirect your direct reports to focus their efforts from being the filter of information, to being the producers of department specific implementation plans to achieve success. From there you can manage their progress.
3) Develop a result matrix for all aspects of the company.
You should have a daily, weekly, and monthly measurement of your success, something measurable, comparable & easy to understand. This information should become the common language of all levels of your organization. It will be a tool to measure success, as well as a motivational tool to do better. It will encourage a culture of accountability and it will keep your strategy at the forefront of everyone, every day. Always include comparison of past, budget and actual for every element of the organization.
4) Be present throughout your organization at all levels.
Take the time to walk around and talk with the people in your organization to get a regular pulse of what is going on. What do employees think of the level of communication in their department or throughout the company? Do they understand the business strategy and their role in it? Do they see areas for improvement? This information will give you a good understanding if your message is being understood, as well as if your senior management team is doing a good job for you. Maintain confidentiality, but make it clear to your staff that you have regular communication with their staff and so on. Ask your direct reports…”if I were to ask your employees or others how they would describe your management style, what would they say?” Then after they respond, tell them…”well, this is what they actually think and here is how I want that to change”. Do this sort of questioning on a regular basis and it will keep your staff humble and focused. It is not micromanaging or negative, instead it is leading and setting the tone for management accountability.
5) Develop a clear understanding of what your team SHOULD BE doing.
Take the time to read through the different business communities here on ManagingAmericans.com. Become aware of what will make your staff exceptional and talk with them about how they are implementing these success principles. Use what you learn as a progressive management tool. The more they understand what you know about their jobs, the harder they will work for you.
6) Share your results.
You know where you want the company to go, how well it is doing and the areas that need more focus. It is imperative that you share this information throughout the company as often as possible. Post results, hold town hall meetings, post or email a monthly letter to all employees. Being able to tie the company together is your responsibility…clear communication is the key.
The reality is that if you master leadership, you’ve mastered communication. Communication takes up at least 80% of an effective leader’s time. How much time do you spend communicating, internally and externally?
I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life. Test out these concepts and share your results with us. Others can benefit from your experiences. Good luck!
Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of ManagingAmericans.com
Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.
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