At the risk of dating myself, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” is a classic line from the 1967 hit movie “Cool Hand Luke” starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. This line has been used over and over to summarize, at any given time, relationships between spouses, employees, friends and most frequently between parents and their children.
Communication is a critical skill in every aspect of our personal and professional lives. How you communicate plays a major role in how well you do—in anything. Poor communication causes frustration, anger, misunderstandings, mistakes, friction and broken relationships. Nothing good comes from poor communication. Good communication, on the other hand, keeps everything moving forward as smooth as possible. When good communication exists, the right things just happen on a consistent basis.
How a leader communicates is critical to the relationships and trust he or she builds and maintains with their team, peers, superiors and customers. It’s like the lubricant used in a high-performance engine to reduce the friction between all of the moving parts to ensure smooth, reliable and long-lasting operations. Bottom line: How a leader communicates has a very measurable effect on not only his or her personal performance, but on the performance of their organization. Yet, despite its importance, many of you can do a better job at how you communicate.
Leaders get paid to use their best judgment at any given time based upon the situation at hand. An important aspect of their judgment is how they communicate the scope of an issue, what needs to be done, by who, and when and why. That’s a fair amount of critical information that needs to get out, and sometimes it needs to happen within a pressured timeframe. If the leader hasn’t developed his or her communication skills or habits, the situation is going to be tougher than it needs to be. Yet, if they have worked at developing their communication skills, they will be able to successfully adapt to the task at hand.