Leading Your Team With Bold Communication, Part 4
Let’s face it — we’ve all had it happen before where we left a meeting feeling that everyone was on the same page but later found out that not everyone was on the same page at all! This leads to lack of alignment within an organization, a team or a family, and the results can be costly and sometimes even destructive. So, how do you keep this from happening? How do you ensure that everyone is on the same page and going in the same direction?
In Issue 88 of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report, we began discussing how to Lead With SPICE. SPICE strategies achieve bold communication that will change your team. In that issue, we looked at the “S” of SPICE – being Strategic in all that you do, say, or write – making sure that everything has a purpose and that that purpose builds toward your organization’s mission and goals. We discussed having a purpose that changes the world to be a better place.
In Issue 90, we looked at how to make our messages be Profound – the “P” of SPICE. We talked about ways to ensure that our messages are carefully thought through in order to have the maximum impact on their recipients.
In Issue 91, we looked at the “I” of SPICE, which stands for Inspirational. In order to influence the behavior of others, you need to inspire them to something great. You may recall how, in that issue, we looked at President Kennedy inspiring the nation to land on the moon, ending the Space Race with Russia which, prior to that, seemed to only have nuclear war as the end goal.
Below are all of the components of SPICE. In this issue we’re looking at the “C” – the importance of being Crystal Clear in our communications.
- Crystal Clear
Here we go!
Definition: Free from darkness, obscurity, or cloudiness.
I think that, as communicators, we tend to all think we’re pretty good at it, don’t we? I mean, most of us have been talking and writing for quite a few years now. We should have it down pat by now. It’s easy enough – isn’t it?
Here’s a fun exercise I want you to try the next time you have your team together as a group. Have everyone pair up in groups of preferably two or three.
Next, have each person, without talking to the others in their group or saying or humming or singing it aloud, think of a song. Make it a simple song that everyone knows. It could be a children’s song or some famous rock anthem from the 80s. Or whatever … just think of a song that everyone will know.
And, no, we are not going to ask folks to sing in front of everyone. In fact, we don’t want them to sing it out loud at all. But, instead, ask them to start singing their song silently in their head.
Once everyone has their song going through their head, ask them to, individually, while singing the song silently in their heads, tap the rhythm of their song out on the table for the others in their group to listen to.
First, though, before they start tapping, have them estimate in their heads how likely they think that their partner is to guess the name of their song. How many of them feel 100% certain they will guess the song? 75%? 50%? Only 25%? Not a chance in the world that they will guess it?
Next, have them go ahead and do the exercise. If their partner doesn’t guess it the first time, try it another time or two. And then switch roles and let the other person try it with their song.
After they have done this for a few minutes, stop them and ask of those who felt 75 or 100% certain that their partner would guess the song, how many were actually successful? What you will find is that, for most people, this is a far greater challenge than they expected.
They will all know their individual songs in their heads and hearts and assume that their partners will recognize them with ease. Ask if any of them got frustrated with their partner. Chances are they did.
The same thing happens when we try to communicate with words. We know full well what we’re trying to say and we assume that the other person is totally on board with us. All too often we part ways thinking the other person understood us 100% but, in reality, all they heard was the equivalent of a mish-mash of meaningless, disjointed, fragmented thumps on the table. In the worst case scenario, they think we said something that is the complete opposite of what we actually said.
Fact is, achieving crystal clear communication is not as easy as we hope? Let me share four keys to Crystal Clear communication.
- Context. If you know things that the other person doesn’t know, and what you are saying is dependent upon those things, you must explain those things to the other person before proceeding. In order for them to understand what you’re saying, you must share Context with them. In other words, they have to be brought up to speed to where you are. You can’t take someone from one place to another in their heart, their mind, or their actions, unless you’re both starting from the same place.
- Frequency. If you ever find yourself thinking “Well, I already told them that so I don’t need to say it again,” stop yourself! We live in a world that is absolutely inundated with information. People are bombarded with messages from all sides. Oftentimes, the only way for you to get your message through is to repeat it … many times! On important messages, don’t ever assume that once or even twice is enough to communicate them! Repeat, repeat, repeat!
- Consistency. This is a big one. And it has as much to do with integrity in leadership as it does Communication. Your messages to your organization, both verbal and through your actions, must be 100% consistent. If they aren’t, you cause confusion and you lose credibility as a leader. Your messages must be consistent from person to person and also consistent from day to day. If you should find at some point that you must change positions or processes from what you have communicated previously, be upfront about that fact. State that you have changed your mind or your message and explain why doing so was in the best interest of the organization. You must always be consistent or explain why things have changed going forward.
- Clarity. Clarity in communication covers such a wide gamut from using too many technical terms to using too many slang terms to just not being very thorough to talking while you’re chewing gum. You must make sure that, written or verbal, the intent of your messages is very clear and carries through. Word choice, inflection, tone – those all affect the level of clarity with which you communicate.
I encourage you – ask some folks in your life who will be honest with you whether you are Crystal Clear in your communications. Ask them for ideas and feedback on how to be a better communicator.
Next, we will be at the E of SPICE, which stands for Empower. You must not just talk to them but Empower the members of your organization if there is to be any hope of reaching your organization’s desired outcome. Be sure to watch for this in a future Executive Reportissue.
Please feel free to email me with stories of your leadership experiences – we can learn and grow together! I hope that 2018 is off to a great start for you. I also hope to see you March 19-21 in Piqua, Ohio for the Metal Roofing Summit!