Leading Your Team With Bold Communication
If you ask most leaders whether they are a good communicator, chances are they will enthusiastically reply “Absolutely!” or something similar to that. After all, most of us have been talking and writing for more years than we care to admit. So, we must have it down pat, right?
Unfortunately, no. And, to make matters worse, as culture and society change, communication styles have to change as well. It may seem strange but today’s work force is wired very differently from the work force of 20 years ago. If you’re still communicating as you did 20 years ago, you will find that your effectiveness has diminished.
Given the importance of solid communication skills when leading your organization, we’re going to take five future issues of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report and discuss ways to make your communication more effective in today’s world. To help us all develop as better communicators, we’re going to look at how to SPICE up our communication with SPICE standing for the following:
In this issue, we will look at the S of SPICE – the importance of making sure that your communication is Strategic.
Definition: Approaching things with a plan for achieving a desired outcome
There are two parts of being Strategic and we’re going to cover both of them. One is being Strategic in terms of communicating the overall direction and purpose of your organization. The second is being Strategic each and every time you pick up a pen, open your mouth, or sit down at a computer; in other words, being Strategic with all of your communications.
Before you can possibly ever be Strategic as a leader, you need to make sure that you know what your desired organizational outcome is. We all know the old saying – if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? Another way of thinking about this is the more modern phrase – “garbage in, garbage out.” We can chuckle about these sayings but how often have businesses or even families gotten way off track, even to the point of destruction because no one clearly identified where they were going? Because no one ensure that what was being fed into the organization or family was good and Strategic. The fact is, you have to know where you’re going – exactly what your preferred future is – if you’re ever going to get there.
This is why organizations have things like Mission Statements, Vision Statements, Core Values and Strategic Plans. Here is a very simple example from the business world: if your desire is to have your business known for unmatched prompt customer care and service, but you never make that clear to your team members, will they ever take your organization to that desired outcome? Probably not!
To be Strategic as a leader and in your communications, you have to first define the desired outcome and THEN you have to develop and communicate the plan for achieving that desired outcome. Many companies never develop corporate strategy but, beyond that, even of the ones who do perhaps write a Mission or Vision Statement or develop Core Values, far too many just lock them away in a drawer or perhaps add them as a footnote on their website, and then it’s business as usual – no following the strategy or the plan. No getting their team on board with knowing what’s expected of them or what that desired outcome is.
As you think about your organizational strategy, there’s an overarching question to ask yourself and, once you have answered this question, then you can begin to communicate the answer to your team along with a strategy that will provide them guidance. Ready for the question? It may surprise you.
How does your organization contribute to making the world a better place?
Let me repeat that … How does your organization contribute to making the world a better place?
Does that surprise you? Now, the answer doesn’t have to be some huge grandiose BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) such as “We provide clean drinking water to everyone on the planet” or “We bring world peace,” but it does need to be what that key outcome is that your company wants to accomplish for those you interact with. What do you want those you come in contact with – customers, team members, suppliers – to walk away with. This thing that you do to make the world a better place for them becomes your company story and your company DNA.
As you know, I work at Isaiah Industries, a manufacturer of specialty metal roofing and our answer to this question is that we want everyone we encounter to realize that they are important. And, in doing that, we hope that we are able to make their world a better place. in all of our interactions with customers, team members, suppliers, competitors, or the general public, we make a point to treat them as children of the same Creator as us with the same value and worth as all of us. In that simple approach to others, we want to make their days brighter and send them a clear message that they are a child of God and that they are loved and cared for in this world.
That all, of course, is a big goal, but it’s something that we can strive to do in every interaction with another human – let them know that they are worthy – that we care for and respect them the same as everyone else. We believe that there’s not enough of that in this world and that’s how we strive to make the world a better place. We think that the world becomes a better place when everyone feels valued, and when they begin to see the value in all others.
So, with that as our end goal of how we make the world a better place, our corporate strategy which consists of our Mission Statement and our Core Values is set up to hopefully achieve that goal. In addition to making the world a better place, we believe that, if we are successful in this goal, people will want to work for us, customers will want to buy from us, and suppliers will want to support our efforts.
So, ask yourself — how does your organization make the world a better place? Furthermore, how do you communicate that to your team so that they realize and live into the expectation? The answers to these questions should be a part of your well-communicated strategy that impacts everything you do, both individually, and as an organization.
Now, that’s how you are Strategic in your overall direction as an organization but remember that we discussed also being Strategic each and every time you communicate, whether it’s verbal or written. As a leader, the things you write and say, no matter who they are directed toward, have impact. So, choose those things carefully, with your desired impact in mind. Do not just talk for the purpose of hearing yourself talk (as many of us often do) but talk because your communication has a Strategic purpose.
One thing you should think a great deal about is Strategic Next Steps. In every interaction with a customer or prospect, strategize on what you need to do next. What is the path you need to go down to lead them toward your desired goal? What needs to happen in your interaction with those folks in order to make the world a better place? This Strategic Next Step process forces you to be thoughtful and strategic in all of your communications.
So, as you communicate within your business, your family, and your community, strive to be Strategic … don’t just be a “clanging cymbal” but instead be a voice that leads and directs, logically and calmly but also persuasively, toward your defined preferred future.
Watch for a future issue of the Executive Report when we will move on to the P of our SPICE – being Profound. In the meanwhile, if there is ever anything I can do for you, please let me know.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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