Effective communication is one of the most important skills in leadership development. While a lot of time and effort is spent helping leaders learn how to communicate, it’s just as important to think about what you communicate as a leader. You are always communicating so it’s vitally important to make sure you’re sending the right message. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
What you say, may not be what you are communicating. Here’s an example. A leader I worked for regularly spouted the normal platitudes about integrity and teamwork, but his actions did not support his rhetoric. He was often dishonest in his relations with the team and proved more than willing to harm a team member to further his own success. What he said, and what he communicated were complete opposites.
To ensure you are communicating what you intend to communicate, there are a few vital points you must have clear in your own mind because they affect what you communicate to your team.
1. Your vision. There is a lot of talk among experts about whether leaders should have a vision. I firmly believe leaders must be able to articulate a vision and your actions must demonstrate that you truly believe in that vision. If you have a vision of your team accomplishing great things, you will tend to have a more positive attitude which your team will see. If you have no vision of your team beyond just getting the work done, they’ll see that too and probably won’t be inclined to go beyond the minimum requirements.
2. Your values. No matter what you say, your real values shine through like a spotlight. You can talk about honesty, but if you’re dishonest, that’s the value your team will see. Leaders must live the values they claim to hold.
3. Your leadership philosophy. A leadership philosophy begins with the previous two points but goes well beyond them to clearly state what the leader believes, their priorities, what they expect, and what the team can expect from them. It’s best to write this down and give a copy to everyone. Then, make sure that’s what you’re communicating.
As a military commander I always told my junior leaders they were always on parade. As a leader, you are too. Followers are always watching and in spite of what you say, they will see who you are.
Do you have a leadership philosophy?