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Leadership Lesson #9: Communicate Often and With Clarity

Leadership Lesson #9: Communicate Often and With Clarity

by George Virtue, CPA, CA, Managing Partner and Strategic Advisor

It occurs to me that humans are the most highly developed species on earth yet we may be the most ineffective species when it comes to communication!  While I cannot answer the question of why this is so, I can offer some advice as to how we can be better at communication.  

At Avail CPA we periodically conduct a gap analysis survey amongst all of our team members. Each time we have done this survey our people tell us that effective communication ranks higher than any other factor that we survey. And despite continuous efforts to improve our communication and a high rating on how well we communicate, it is always one of our biggest gaps on the survey. I share this with you to demonstrate just how difficult it is to meet expectations when it comes to communication.

I can think of a few circumstances where huge gaps generally exist between the needs of the organization and its ability to communicate effectively. Improve your communication in these areas and your organization will gain a competitive advantage:

  • Vision, strategy and goals
  • Organizational values
  • Performance feedback
  • Implementing change
  • Accountability

When our people lack information, they fill this void by creating a story that is often not accurate.  Worse yet, they then respond to the story that they have invented. So avoid this risk when it comes to these 5 critical communication challenges. Here are a few tips that I have picked up along the way:

  1. Be crystal clear about the message. Pay attention to the words you are using, ensure that your actions match your words, use examples, tell stories, make it personal.
  2. Ensure that your expectations of others are clearly communicated and understood.
  3. Use the appropriate medium – in person, email, phone, group session, text. Not all are capable of delivering the message that you want.
  4. Be timely – information provided in advance avoids speculation.
  5. Start with WHY. I find that it is much easier to engage in a conversation when I understand why it is important!
  6. Match your communication style to the style of the person to whom you are communicating – some prefer “short and sweet”, others need time to digest, and some won’t hear anything you say until you show them that you care about them.
  7. Develop a communication plan. Sometimes we seem to start talking before we have given much thought as to how we will ensure that our communication is effective.
  8. Share as much information with your team as possible – including financial results – and when you are unable to do so explain why this is the case. Knowledge is power and when you hoard this power your organization suffers. 

Pay attention to the level of communication effectiveness in your organization. If you are anything like every other organization that I have been involved with, there are opportunities to improve. When you do you will reap the rewards of a highly effective organization. And one last thought: when in doubt, communicate more not less.

Click here to read Leadership Lesson #8: Learn to Listen
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #7: Delegate - But Do it Right 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #6: Understand the Power of Conflict 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #5: Build a Real Team 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #4: Choose Your Culture 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #3: Figure Out Where You Want to Go and How You Will Get There 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #2: Make Sure that Everyone (Including You) is Doing the Right Job 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #1: Get the Right People on the Team

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