Listen to almost any discussion about how an organization can improve and the topic of communication will come up as one of the—if not the biggest—problems. It seems that no matter how much technology improves, the real question is, “How can people improve at communicating?”
Here are four ways that you can improve as a communicator:
- Stick to the Same Message.
Most leaders unintentionally dilute their message by having too many messages. Find the right message for your team. Choose your wording carefully. Say it in a memorable way, and then stick to it. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that your team can remember 37 things because it’s in the team’s “DNA.” They can’t. The more messages you have, the less impact your real message has.
- Use the Power of Story.
The whole world loves a story, and great leaders share great stories. Stories should not be confused with epic marathons. Less is more. However, don’t underestimate the power of a story to communicate your core values, your expectations, and your aspirations. Stories, not slogans, will do the most to inspire your team; and the more technical and “data-driven” you are, the more important it is that you learn to tell great stories.
- Speak with Your Own Leader’s Voice.
The whole world may love a story, but we all despise a fake. As a leader, if you don’t have enough confidence to be yourself, how do you expect others to have enough confidence to follow you? Authentic leaders can spot someone who is just imitating someone else from a mile away. It’s important to have mentors and heroes, but it’s equally important to differentiate yourself from them. Be yourself and speak from your own experience—even the painful ones. Sometimes it’s your pain that results in the most gain, so find your own voice and use it.
- Create a Culture that Values Robust Dialogue.
Any good idea can become a better idea if it’s subjected to robust dialogue. A leader is responsible for communication to the team, communication from the team, and communication within the team. Of those three, communication within the team may be the most important because dynamic communication within the team will create better leaders and more emotional buy-in. It also shapes the communication from the team to others. Not only that, but if you aspire to have a culture where everyone engages in honest dialogue, that premise will influence the way and the frequency with which you communicate to your team. Communication is not a one-way street. It’s a web of interdependent avenues. At the core of any organization that excels in communication, you will find this principle: they value participation over edicts.