Leadership’s Impact on Communications
When my son was 30 years old he relayed this memory of when he was four. I had returned home from having a mole surgically removed from my back. It was quite an experience and I was telling my wife things like, “So this guy (the doctor) is cutting into my back and there’s blood spraying everywhere…” and so on…
My four year old son had categorized what I was doing whenever I wasn’t in his presence. He said he knew that I was either at the fire station or I was at the local home improvement store… that was my life in his experience.
So as I shared my doctor visit within earshot of him he envisioned that while I was checking out the 2X4s at Home Depot some “guy” walked up, pulled out a knife, and stabbed me in the back. Of course, this mental image included all of the blood and chaos that must have followed.
The main point of this story is that he never said anything to clarify his understanding of what had happened until he was 30! What he heard frightened him, but he never asked any clarifying questions, and no one would expect a four year old to do so.
Yet, we continue to see failures in business caused by poor communication skills. Assuming that we are dealing with adults, we should actually be expecting everyone around us to take the time to ensure that their messages are understood, and that they fully understand the messages from others.
LEADING IMPROVED COMMUNICATIONS
Leadership is all about creating an environment that allows people to succeed by doing their best. Positive change in the work place, or anywhere else for that matter, will never succeed without those in leadership positions actually leading the way.
When it comes to the topic of improved communications it is essential for our leaders to provide the right example, expectations, and best practices that will promote such improvements. It will not happen any other way.
IGNITING A CULTURAL CHANGE FOR IMPROVED COMMUNICATIONS
One of the Third Alarm Class 1 Solution’s for continuous incremental improvement and the discovery of best practices is the formula: CPR + R2.
This formula for management, leadership, and successful outcomes is full of opportunities to communicate better.
This process includes two-way communications, utilizing the SIZE-UP Planning Process as a checklist to ensure that everyone understands your communicated message.
It also calls for a continuous review of your actions in order to constantly correct misunderstandings and adjusting as you move along. Everyone must also revise their process by ensuring that they communicate discoveries of problems encountered, corrected, and the best practices discovered so that they can be replicated throughout the organization.
When anyone internalizes communications by only applying what their limited understanding of a particular subject might be, we will find ourselves making the same wrong assumptions, like my four year old son made, as he listened to my story.
Leaders have the power to create a culture where everyone is expected to ensure that their message has been heard and understood, and where everyone is also expected to ask, “What are we trying to do, and why are we trying to do it?” As a messenger, we should all invite, and be able to answer, these two very important questions.