The Basic Four of Leadership: # 2 – Communicate

A senior leader’s job isn’t to have all the ideas or even most of them. Her job is to communicate corporate goals to employees and motivate them to achieve them. – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics.

Communicating Openly

When you stop to think about it, communication within an organization is going to happen without a leader’s active participation. Communication is happening every day among employees. If a thing or a person or an event exists in an organization, someone, somewhere, is talking about it. So when a leader fails to constantly and openly communicate “who we are and what’s important,” the conversation doesn’t stop. The dialogue among employees just goes in a different direction, and the organization’s culture develops away from the leader’s influence, goals and priorities.

So what do leaders who openly communicate do? For starters:

  • Set clear guiding values and goals
  • Discuss issues facing the organization and the team – not just the big decisions and announcements
  • Pass on all useful bits of information to employees, especially those that involve change initiatives or that personally affect employees
  • Make time for employees and listen intently when they express opinions and concerns
  • Welcome open discussion from team members about rumors they hear
  • Respond promptly to team member requests for more information
  • Go up their own chain of command to fill in the details they don’t know
  • Introduce employees to other key individuals in the organization, sparking dialogue
  • Give employees online access to relevant databases

Leaders communicate on many other levels as well. They communicate by example, gesture, their decisions, what they value, and what they celebrate, what they reward and what they don’t reward, and their actions.

The one thing they can’t do is communicate from their office.

While meetings, conference calls, and reports are all important, the things that keep leaders in their offices are nowhere near as important as open communications with their team.

It’s impossible to lead people without open communication.

And that requires you to open your door and take a walk…

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 3 of a series

Part 1

Part 2

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