Leadership Strategies for Effective Communication

I was interviewed by Karen Mangia for Medium.com as part of the series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” This is fourth and final excerpt from that interview.

THE QUESTION

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are struggling to have their messages heard and actioned?

MY ANSWER

The communication saturation and barking dogs strategy are key to getting a message out there.

“Barking dogs” are people who have opinions that you may or may not want to hear, and they will be barking outside the room if you don’t let them into the room. It takes a strong leader to handle the barking dogs but that’s what it takes to have good communication.

Also, it helps if you lean on the healthy core values of the company or organization. An effective leader needs to be the core value champion. Use the core values as part of the communication strategy.

QUESTION

Leading a remote, distributed team requires a different communication cadence and style from leading a team in person. What are five strategies any leader can deploy to improve communication and clarity when leading a distributed workforce?

ANSWER

While not five “strategies” exactly, I do believe that the “Four Knows” that lead to Co-Creation encompass all we need as leaders for clear and effective communication.

1.First is Focus.

These are the seven things to consider:

Mutually Desired Outcomes

The who, what, where, when, why, and how

It’s more than the “what”

Who — stakeholders

Why — what is the reason or reasons

Most important is the “how”

Commit to measurable outcomes

2.Second is Communication.

Those key points are:

Everyone speaks — we all have a unique perspective

Everyone respects

Everyone is patient

Everyone is honest

Everyone is transparent

Everyone builds trust

Everyone commits 100%

3.Third is Process.

Determine the co-creation structure you plan on using: Think tank, crowdsource, open source, or user generated.

Establish governance

Have clear roles and responsibilities

Deliver predictable results

4.Fourth is Execution.

Clarify expectations

Leverage contextual intelligence

Ask questions

Lead from behind — with guardrails

Coach and cultivate

QUESTION

What are the three most effective strategies to diminish distractions when there is so much competing for attention?

ANSWER

The first is certainly to be sure your team knows that you aren’t just listening to them, but you are HEARING them as well. When people feel like they are being heard, they will pay attention when you need them to be focused.

Communicate clearly to your team that they need to “hold the vision, not the obstacles.”  Obstacles tend to be the biggest distractions. The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the distraction. If you get your team to focus on the vision, they tend to find workarounds for the distractions.

The best way to get people to focus on the vision is a concept I talk about in The 3rd Paradigm — that is “Communication Saturation.” When the leader saturates the team with relevant information (including a focus on the overall vision), it definitely helps to pull people away from distractions.

QUESTION

What is one skill you would advise every leader to invest in to become a better communicator?

ANSWER

The ONE skill that every leader should have to be a better communicator is to know that… there is NO one skill. It is always a recipe of factors. It’s like a great meal — one ingredient does not make a great dinner. It is a recipe that includes several things. For communication it includes things like being clear and transparent as well as practicing active listening, holding the vision, and communication saturation,

FINAL QUESTION

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

ANSWER

Others would have to say whether I have achieved this concept or not, but I feel that is exactly what I have done. BNI now has over 11,100 groups meeting in 77 countries around the world every week. More importantly, in the last 12 months (as of this blog’s publication date), the organization has generated $22.9 Billion US Dollars in business for our members (based on what they report via our online platform). If you take the UN estimates of Gross Domestic Product, there are over 100 countries in the world with a LOWER GDP than what BNI members generated for themselves in the preceding 12 months. That feels like a fairly effective movement to me.

 

 

 

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