Three Communication Tips Every Leader Should Use

Guest post from Joe McCormack:

Brief
breakthroughs can come at any time.

“I
wish I knew how important brevity was for me 30 years ago.” That’s a powerful
confession to hear from an accomplished Fortune 500 professional.

I
had just wrapped up a “Brief Leadership” seminar with a group of manufacturing
managers and one of their senior leaders pulled me aside afterward. I thought
he was going to thank me or ask a follow-up question.

“I
just can’t help myself with words,” he lamented. I was floored by his candor.

Recognizing
that his successful career, nearing its end, had been filled with constant falling
into temptation to over-explain, he confided to me that his default mode was to
dump on his subordinates and give them lengthy lectures.  
 

He
was looking me straight in the eye, completely serious and contrite. “I’m going
to change. I just wish I knew this at the beginning of my career.”

I
walked away thinking that he’s not alone. Many managers feel that way when they
realize the impact they have on others when they get lost in their own words.
Their ability to lead, manage and stay ahead is hindered by a lack of
discipline when communicating.

In
your career, grasping that “less is more” can be a powerful, immediate and
profound realization.

So
why don’t more leaders catch themselves before falling? Who needs to get the
message that talking less and listening more is an essential 21st-Century
leadership skill? What can professionals do to avoid the lure to be long-winded?

Here
are three pointers that will help you avoid the temptation to pour it on:

1.     Brief
means balance.

Professionals often think that when they communicate they need to share
everything they know, regardless of how long it may take. They’re perpetually running
out of time to cram it all in. Brevity means maintaining a fine balance of
being clear, concise and compelling. When you’ve made your point, don’t try to
make it sharper.

2.     Filling
what’s already filled.

Your subordinates and colleagues are already flooded with information, constantly
interrupted and highly inattentive. Think of their heads like a glass of water
with only a few inches left to the top. Your job is to be certain that their
minds don’t overflow with your wasted words.

3.     Leave
room for a response.

Pause to give people time to process. Their minds are so often so burdened and divided
that they need to take small breaks to digest and respond. These silent pauses
are critical to knowing not only that what you’ve said has sunk in, but that
they’re on board not over board.

Long
story, short:
Choose
your words carefully and economically. Effective leaders today are mindful
communicators, aware of the needs of their audience as well as the message they
are trying to get across, briefly.

Biography:

Joe McCormack is an experienced marketing
executive, successful entrepreneur and author. He founded and serves as
managing director of The Sheffield Company, an award-winning boutique agency
recognized for its focus on narrative messaging and visual storytelling. His
new book,
Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less (Wiley & Sons, 2014) tackles the timeliness
of the “less is more” mandate. In 2013, he founded
The BRIEF Lab as a specialty institute to
help business and military leaders become lean communicators. There are
currently facilities in Chicago, IL and Southern Pines, NC.