The world’s greatest leaders know how to speak to the heart. They speak of aspirations and dreams, goals and vision. These leaders resonate with us because they speak to our emotions. Great leaders are known and present. While leadership itself is highly complicated, some common underlying concepts are foundational in nature. The basis for effective leadership in any scenario is a strong ability to communicate. Many of us have been on the receiving end of great communication, but it is much more challenging to be a great communicator.
In the context of corporate leadership, we are faced with even more complexity. We are bound by corporate culture, challenged by the dynamics of five generations in the workforce, and rapid changes in social norms. Some leaders have chosen to take the path of seemingly least resistance or risk, which is silence. Studies show great leaders can more than double corporate productivity. It is safe to draw a line from great leadership to great communication.
If great leadership via effective, powerful, and impacting communication results in organizational growth and net profitability the result of silence may be a decrease in organizational performance. The idea of safety through a lack of communication or intentional silence is counter to the overall value of a company. As a corporate leader, you may be adversely impacting the company with intentional silence.
Silence plays havoc with the mind. Silence or lack of communication results in many issues. Here are some to consider:
- Culture of distrust
- Organizational confusion
- Lack of employee engagement
- Impact on customers
- Issues with talent management
- Mixed messaging between inner and outer social channels (lack of alignment)
- Loss of profit
- Loss of talent
- Impact on innovation
- Impact on recruiting and attraction of talent
If you wonder how communication could be so powerful or you don’t believe that communication has this much of an impact, consider history. Think about world history, think about the world today, think about great leaders who have had an impact on you personally.
It is our responsibility as leaders to pay it forward and to pay it back to those who have led us.
Communication by itself without active listening and learning can be harmful as well. There are a lot of issues today that require understanding and deconfliction. As an example, diversity and inclusion are concepts that are hard to understand and explain. A company may have a position from a legal position but may have a different position from a cultural perspective. Think about Chick-fil-A. Dan Cathy writes handwritten notes of gratitude regularly. He sends texts and emails to his teams to thank them and he writes regularly to his teams and operators. The company is known for courtesy and polite interactions with customers. However, they have a culture and philosophy that is aligned with principles that may not be favorable to all communities. The lack of silence and visibility of corporate action created issues for the brand, however, the corporate communication and consistency of leadership even with this sociological issue in position has allowed the brand to beat estimates and become the best in class company.
Satya Nadella has essentially reinvented Microsoft as a service company vs. a software company. Part of his strategy was his investment in learning, writing, and organizational communication. Satya wrote a book for everyone but created a special edition for employees that outlines what he believes are the most critical and foundational concepts that he wants his teams to practice. He keeps a blog and writes regularly to his team. He actively encourages daily learning through transactions and interactions. In short, Nadella believes in the power of positive leadership and uses terms such as “growth mindset” and “empathy” that are reinforced by action. As we’ve seen before with leaders who upend command-and-control leadership styles, positive leadership is just one style that can influence a thriving workplace culture where employees feel inspired and trusting, motivated by purpose, and ready to work with others to achieve common goals.
His main tool is communication, not technology.
In an Inc. interview with Nadella, he offers three things every great leader should create:
- Success, no matter the circumstances
Result, since he has led Microsoft the company is at the highest net performance and acceleration of all time.
What Can I Do?
I can speak to what the mission, vision, scope and values and objectives of my company mean to me. I can do this through blogging, emails, videoes, podcasts, newsletters, or social channels.
I can talk about my values and tell stories about my team.
I can talk to my team.
I can talk about my vision for the future.
I can talk about learning, growth, empathy, diversity, understanding, and reflection through active listening.
I can talk about taking concepts from ideas to reality.
There are many more things that I can do.
The thing that I can’t do is stay silent and expect my team to be ok without active communication.
Internal Blog vs. Intranet Articles
The main difference between email communications, corporate newsletters and other Corporate Communications managed by the Corp Comm team and an internal blog is the nature of the message. The message from an internal blog is informal. It provides a perspective and an opinion, allowing the reader into the mechanics of the thinking and giving them a view of the person beyond the concept of a brand.
If you don’t know what to write, which is an excuse that people make all the time, I’ll give you some prompts here:
- Hi, My name is .. and this is who I am
- How I got to now
- Things I enjoy doing
- What is important to me and how it aligns with what I do
- What is my vision?
- What does working here mean to me?
- How I learn
- How I share
- How am I reachable
- What YOU mean to me
Rounding it Up
Increase Employee Engagement
Improve Employee Experience
Make yourself known
Be the leader
What do you think? I’d like to know.