This area of communication is of personal interest for me as it's usually the thing which drives me crazy in a team environment. And not in a good way may I add! When you're a leader who is aware of leadership qualities you become very conscious of what is delivered to your team.
We're not just talking verbally here either - this encompasseseverything that is delivered to the team. This includes verbal, non-verbal, decision making, values and ethical praxis to name just a few. If you're leader is telling you how great you are and how fantastic the team is doing but then goes away and tells others that anything bad is your fault, you wont feel 'great'.
A friend was involved in a department where his department head kept telling him that they appreciated him and said that he was doing a brilliant job with the team he lead. This delivered positivity, gratification and appreciation verbally to him, however, later he found out that in a planning meeting they spent a good amount of time discussing all the negative things which he bought to the table. This bad behaviour of his department head delivered a confronting disunity and serious challenge to his integrity. From that point on my friend couldn't trust anything that his department head said. The communication broke the circle of trust and damaged the leadership relationship.
Be careful of what comes out of your mouth, body language or actions as these deliver messages which are not limited to those immediately receiving these messages.
We must always start off with the foundations and grow out from there into more specific and complex leadership questions. Follow the following steps and make note of what you discover. This could change the way you see your entire team - but please be a secure leader who is up to the challenge. Be secure in who you are!
1. Be open to changing yourself and strong enough to hear critique of your communication
No one likes to hear something negative about the way they are with others. Its a simple fact - however great leaders are open to specific critique to develop as leaders. Insecure leaders fall apart when challenged with a personal fault of theirs but secure leaders know when someone is right and action it! (and know when someone is wrong and disregard it.)
2. In which ways are you engaging communication to your team?
Take a moment and think of how you communicate with your team. Some common ones are obviously verbal, SMS, e-mail, body language and your attitude. How well do you use these methods? That can be a hard question but there are ways to evaluate this.
- Measure your success and failures on how well or badly you've delivered information. Remember times your team has struggled to achieve goals due to misinterpretation of what you communicated or were sidetracked.
- Speak to your team about the ways in which you deliver information and see how they respond or give you suggestions on how to develop this.
Beware of new communication methods such as e-mail, intranet and social media. A leader I interned with once told me never to communicate anything else except basic information in print. You shouldn't focus on leading through these mediums but use them as tools as they can be too misinterpreted.
3. Approach mentors to give input into your leadership quality to deliver information to your team
The mentors in your life are there for this specific reason. You may not want to ask your team if you don't have a great relationship with them yet but you can speak to your mentor. Let there wisdom impact this particular leadership characteristic.
4. Don't get caught up in second guessing yourself but continually use these processes to evaluate how you deliver everything to your team
You don't want to waste hours of your time looking into every little detail of this but that isn't a licence to be lazy or skip this important leadership characteristic. Keep in mind all the verbal and non-verbal communication you engage in. A little clue is that if everyone knows something about you then its a sign - for instance if everyone thinks your unapproachable then you probably should do something about that but if people feel comfortable around you and understand you then its good.