Many of the conversations we have with leaders, HR and Communication business partners centre on providing tailored communication support to individual leaders. What’s fascinating is how it’s the same issues that consistently come to the surface. Here are our eight most common requests…
“I’ve got a leader who needs to…”
1. Build their confidence:
Perhaps they’ve had a negative experience, or are finding particular situations (townhalls, idea-pitching, governance meetings etc.) especially challenging.
2. Improve their clarity:
What appears obvious to the individual may be anything but for their audience, or sometimes it’s the subject-matter-expert defaulting to detail.
3. Manage upwards better:
Connecting with a senior leader’s agenda and distilling the message into its essential elements isn’t always easy.
4. Prepare for succession:
Communication style and approach can be an irritating obstacle to promoting otherwise great leaders.
5. Set an inspiring vision and align the team:
Form any stepping up, this tough challenge can make the difference between success and failure.
6. Move from an operational to a strategic role:
A.K.A. making a success of the transition from a measurable and tangible world into one that isn’t. Hello ambiguity..!
7. Influence better in the matrix:
Effective stakeholder engagement, alignment and collaboration are the hallmarks of matrix leadership and all require clear communication, empathy and great listening.
8. Articulate their role:
Explaining how the leader sees their role and why they are right for it is the first step to a successful tenure.
What’s so great is that, with the right approach, these are all addressable challenges. It just requires the leader to think like a communicator, in fact, we sometimes think of our job as creating a communication department inside the head of every leader. There’s the obvious stuff like who’s the audience, what do they think and why, what is being asked of them, why might they resist…and why should they comply?
And then there’s the all-important ‘how do I want to show up?’ question. The rational analyst, the creative change agent, the cause-driven visionary…what does the context and situation require of the leader and how are you going to bring it. This where there can be friction between the ‘tell it like it is’ School of Authenticity, and the more nuanced approach that we like to adopt of conscious adaptation. I would argue that the adaptive approach is what great leaders and the best communicators do instinctively.
So, if you’ve ‘got a leader who…’, as a start, recommend they think like a communicator.
Colin Hatfield, Founder, Visible Leaders