Communication, Communication, Communication:
The Key to Success
By Lee Froschheiser
hear it all the time … aspiring managers or vice presidents want to
know the most important key to an esteemed business leader’s
success. Thinking the answer must be something like inspiring
leadership, technological innovation, savvy marketing or far-sighted
financial planning — all of which are important — their jaws drop
when they learn the truth.
Generally, a savvy leader’s success is directly tied to his or her
ability to focus on the business fundamentals – the daily blocking
and tackling that every company must master to be a winner in its
field. Strong, effective leaders stress fundamentals like
discipline, accountability, strategic alignment, managing to his or
her values, and empowering employees. Additionally, these leaders
have mastered the six basic functions of management: leading,
planning, organizing, staffing, controlling and communicating. But
what’s the one golden thread tying all those functions together —
and the most important key to great leadership? Clear communication.
about it … how do the best leaders motivate and inspire their
people? Through clear communication. How do the best organizations
promote discipline, accountability and strategic alignment? With
clear communication. And how do market leaders sell their products
and services? With compelling ads and marketing campaigns — in sum,
by clear communication. The point itself is crystal clear: In real
estate the old cliché is “location, location, location.” In business
leadership, you preach “communication, communication,
Good Leaders, Good Communicators:
There’s no mystery here. Regardless of whether you’re talking about
business, politics, sports or the military, the best leaders are
first-rate communicators. Their values are clear and solid, and what
they say promotes those values. Their teams admire them and follow
their lead. Likewise, if you want your company to reach new
benchmarks of achievement, you must master the art of clear
communication. So how do you do it?
you must realize and accept that clear communication is always a
two-way process. It’s not enough to speak clearly; you have to make
sure you’re being heard and understood. To facilitate this, use the
following two-way communication primer:
Prepare how you’ll communicate
Clarify the goal of the communication.
Plan carefully before sending it or meeting in person.
Anticipate the receiver’s viewpoint and feelings.
Deliver the message
Express your meaning with conviction.
Relate the message to your larger goals.
Identify the action to be taken.
Confirm the other person understands.
Receive the message
Keep an open mind.
Identify key points in the message.
Value constructive feedback and use it to grow.
Confirm your understanding.
Evaluate the effectiveness of the communication afterwards
Take corrective action as necessary
Primers, of course, aren’t enough. You must go deeper and determine
why internal communications are poor or ineffective, considering any
potential barriers. Once the barriers have been identified, you’ll
see where to improve. Additionally, you’ll inevitably realize the
stakes are high when it comes to communicating — if you fail to do
this properly, you can poison the atmosphere between you and a
colleague, as well as your company’s morale. So the next time you’re
drafting a letter, e-mail or policy statement, before you send it,
stop and consider these common barriers to clear communication:
Lack of respect by either party for the other.
Poorly defined purpose for the communication.
Failure to establish the best medium for the communication
(e-mail and cell phones are not the best ways to
communicate serious material).
Assumption that the listener receives the message.
Ignored emotions or sensitivities.
Failure to get on the listener’s level of understanding.
Intimidation by either party.
you’ve determined what’s preventing clear communication at your
company, dig even deeper, asking key questions that relate to your
business’ health such as: How do you produce strategic alignment
inside your company? How do you get your team to actively buy into
your business goals? How do you ensure that everyone understands and
upholds your company’s mission and values? Again, for each of these
issues, the answer lies in clear communication.
Write It Down!
this high-tech, fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook the value of
writing down thoughts, intentions and even visions. Doing so,
however, is a basic business strategy that enables clarity and
purpose. What’s more, the process of writing a business plan can be
more important than the actual document.
great way to see just how effective writing it down can be is to
always have three updated, clearly drafted documents: a mission
statement, a values statement and a business plan. In fact, the
document-drafting process naturally produces common understanding,
consensus, alignment and buy-in. It also promotes clear
communication within your management team while empowering your
people and grooming them for future leadership.
this so crucial to a business’ success? Mission statements define
who you are and where you’re going. Value statements are your
compass, the needle keeping you firmly on course. And your business
plan is the rudder steering your ship.
example, think about Thomas Jefferson and the other framers of The
Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. They drafted
documents that not only defined America and its mission, but also
laid the foundation of ideals, principles, values and laws on which
the nation operates to this day. And guess what? They didn’t just
sit down one day and dictate it to a secretary. They worked the
language and polished every word, over and over, and they used the
process itself to promote alignment, consensus and collective
buy-in. With words, language and clear communication, they launched
a revolution. What’s more, on the shared values of liberty,
individual empowerment and collective prosperity, these visionaries
built a nation of unparalleled wealth and economic gain.
Communication Is the Key:
Bottom line, clear communication is the most important key to a
business leader’s success. So to grow as a leader and manager, you
must learn how to be an effective, compelling communicator. And if
you want your company to succeed, you and your team have to master
the art of clear communication together, as well. By using these and
other strategies, you and your employees can reach new levels of
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