Blank white book w/path

Here is an excerpt from Lee’s latest book, Leadership Matters. It contains 31 daily insights to inspire extraordinary results.

day 6: Communication

What’s the one thing leaders do more than anything else that’s the same thing that can always be improved? Answer: Communication.

Melissa Reiff, President of The Container Store, a perennially top-ranked company on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For summed up the importance of communication when she said, “Leadership is communication.” And the most critical and influential communication occurs between a leader and his/her direct team.

To avoid overcomplicating the communication process, here are three simple steps to inspire extraordinary results: Explain, Ask and Involve.

  1. Explain expected performance levels, the team’s vision and roles. An explanation gap leads to an execution gap. Fill that gap by giving your team the data they need to get the job done and to anticipate the future so they do not go to less reliable sources to fill in the missing information.
  2. Ask employees what they think so they can start participating in the discussion. The key here is to LISTEN. Don’t ask if you’re not going to listen. Asking without listening only builds cynicism, and ultimately a disengaged team. If you don’t listen, you don’t learn. That goes for any area of life, but particularly with your team.
  3. Involve employees in creating solutions to problems and finding new opportunities to improve team performance. People support what they help create.

In today’s hyper-speed, data-overloaded world, we cannot expect to communicate important messages one time and expect it to be understood, internalized and acted upon.

Most teams are too stretched to enable them to change their behavior after hearing something just one time. That’s why inspiring leaders use the “Rule of 6” – they communicate important messages at least six times to affect sustained behavior change. They use different methods, but they keep communicating with their teams around the same topic until it becomes a new team habit. So, the three-step process of Explain, Ask, Involve must be repeated again … and again.

Action Questions:

1. Which of the three communication steps do I do well?

2. Which one can I improve upon?

3. What baby step can I take today to communicate more effectively and inspire extraordinary results?

“Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – until you are sick of hearing yourself. Then communicate some more.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

Copyright © 2012 by Lee J. Colan and The L Group, Inc.