In my work as an organizational development leader, I have done several organizational assessments over the years. Currently I am doing one with a large multi-campus church. Most assessments start with a survey to gain some key insights prior to personal interviews. In every survey I have done, a lack of communication always stands out as a major organizational issue. Why?
Most leaders never ask for feedback on communication and most leaders think they are doing a great job. A major gap! To be a better communicator you have to first acknowledge there is room for improvement.
Here are five keys to taking your communication from good enough to great:
- Ask for feedback.
Pause and go through the process to listen and learn. Surveys, listening sessions, or informal dialogues over coffee will all give you insight in your communication effectiveness. Your honest and open desire to hear will be critical for success. If you really want to move to excellence in communication, you need to know the gap between what you are saying and what people are hearing. This step puts the priority in the right place – on the people listening.
- Consistent communication.
Leaders often think if they have said it once (mission, vision, values, strategy, priority initiatives, etc.) then everyone has heard and understands. This is a dangerous assumption that will lead to organizational confusion and misunderstanding. Your organization needs consistent communication from you and they need you to consistently remind them of the “why” of all that you are doing. Organizational drift occurs without consistent communication. Say it often and say it regularly.
- Be emotive in your communication.
People need a leader who has a compelling vision for an achievable future — a leader who is confident. They need a leader who believes in the mission of the organization and is personally passionate about that mission. They need to be moved by the stories of people impacted by the work of the team. There is a time for a factual non-emotive address but rarely is that the voice of the leader. To be great, your team needs to see, hear, and be moved by your leadership voice.
- Know your audience.
I mean, really take the time to study and know whom you are addressing. Shift your communication approach based on your audience. Connect with your audience through stories that connect specifically with them. Speak the language of your audience. As leaders, you will address many different groups of people and taking the time to know the people you will address and to connect with them on a personal level will make you a great communicator. If you truly care about the people you are speaking to, they will know it. There is nothing worse than a canned speech with little to no regard to the people in the room!
- Be authentic.
Be real and personal as a communicator. Be yourself and don’t waste your energy trying to be someone you are not. Be honest and humble. Authentic communication will make you a part of the group you are addressing rather than separate from them. In most of my surveys, this is the one thing that makes leaders stand out above all others. It creates a deep connection with your organization that lays a strong foundation of trust. People remember what an authentic leader says because they trust them.
“If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
What would you add to this list? I would love to hear from you.