7 Elements That Close the Leadership-Communication Gap
Know them as well as they know you
By Shawn Doyle, CSP
Date Published: 3/1/2015


One element of leadership that is often overlooked and underappreciated is the skill of communication. In organizations there seems to be a remarkable gap between the leader’s perception of the effectiveness of their communication and the team’s. 

Here are seven elements to think about in terms of closing the leadership-communication gap.

1. Get to know them: What are their short-, mid-, and long-term career goals? What motivates them? What doesn’t motivate them? Many times I ask managers these questions about their team members. We do an exercise with a piece of paper, where they write down the names of specific employees, and answer questions about them. It’s a shame how many leaders do not have the answers to any of the questions, and sit during this exercise looking mildly embarrassed. Now—will you get to the information all at once? No. This is information that you will get over time. 

2 Have one-on-one meetings: The best way to establish strong and solid communication is to have regular and consistent one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. These one-on-one meetings are designed for you to update them, and for them to update you. These are regular and consistent, and they need to be “calendarized.” Yes, I know it’s not a word: It’s a made up word that I use to emphasize the importance of getting those one-on-one meetings scheduled on the calendar on a regular basis. In most organizations, the reason that one-on-ones never happen is because they are never scheduled. I once worked for a company for 2 years, and at the end of the 2 years, my manager left the company. At his going away party, he came over, put his arm around my shoulder, and said, “Shawn, I really wish I would have had more time to work with you.” The reality is that this manager never worked with me, never met with me, never coached or trained me, and was, in every sense of the word, a complete failure as a manager. 

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