“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Can you hear me now? Verizon introduced this phrase in their marketing campaign to emphasize the surety of their cell phone products because consumers want to trust the connection, to communicate a timely and clear message with no drops. Similarly in the military this action, a commo check, is used to verify a transmission of critical information.
The process of communication takes on many forms of transferring information from one person to another, an interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information through speech, symbols, actions, or writing. Its deployment is a master messenger for leaders.
A lot of ineffective leadership situations are created when there is a breakdown in the communications process. In a void of no message, there is fear and chaos. With a well-delivered message, there is action and clarity. Being aware of that process and how to become more effective in it will enhance professional and personal situations and serve to lessen some of the distrust associated with relationships in those areas.
Whether in battle, cubicles, boardrooms, conventions or homes, the ability to send and receive messages is critical. In the military, establishing lines of communication is of the first order. Securing the modes is essential so that the source can be trusted. Then it has to be confirmed so everyone can hear the now in the message.
Reflect about leaders you know and trust. Are they dependable and speak their mind? You don’t have to guess what they are thinking. Concise and understandable, if they say it, they do it. These leaders know how to “approve their own message,” vetting it with their sanctioned skill of leadership. From it, trust, respect and action emanate.
What are some ways for leaders of all venues to develop trust through communications skills? In my leadership skills programs, I share these eleven core points:
• Tell the truth as a way to create an open environment.
• Support autonomy as a way to encourage innovation and for people to bring their best.
• Challenge the status quo when necessary to introduce the power of new ideas.
• Show appreciation for all efforts, big and small.
• Be a model of something good by sharing your gifts and life examples.
• Become a more active listener. Focus on key points by connecting to what you know while showing interest in others’ messages.
• Use supportive non-verbals. Align your say and truth in your face and voice.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Inject them to check message understanding.
• Be aware of your style and adjust to the situation.
• Know the audience by being alert and flexible to the circumstances.
• Give and receive feedback appropriately, constructive in criticism and reinforcing in the positive.
Think about the first day of your ideal leadership position. You are now in command! Your followers are waiting to hear from you. What will your message be and how will you check it?
Like bidding at an auction, communication must be done early and often. Whatever the message, you must really imbed trust. A willingness to make sure your message is understood is paramount, so try a variety of communication mediums. Today, tweeting and texting are methods at a leader’s or parent’s disposal, if that gets the satisfactory and rapid response.
People hear things differently. Backgrounds, preoccupations, or baggage affect the receiver mode. The best-intended message may have unintended impact. Aim for impact by tailoring the script to the receiver. Emotions cloud reception. History of the quality of connection can help or hinder. Be clear on these things.
Can YOU hear me now?
This post is excerpted from Deborah’s upcoming book, Hardcore Leadership: 11 Master Lessons from My Airborne Ranger Uncle’s “Final Jump” due out January 2013.