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The 5 Instances When Leaders Must Communicate

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

“Leadership is Influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”

-John C. Maxwell.

Failure to communicate and to do so effectively costs leaders trust, credibility, and relationship with those they seek to influence in order to succeed. It also costs their organizations the direction and drive they need to deliver results.

While it is important for stakeholder to hear from their leaders on an ongoing basis, below I share five instances when it is absolutely critical for leaders to communicate.

1.Initial Introductions

As a leader, it is critical to introduce yourself, your vision, agenda, implementation plan, and expectations at the very beginning of your leadership journey.

When the leader first takes their position, a new recruit joins the team, the beginning of the year, project, or transition, are some of the critical moments when leaders need to communicate to set the tone for what is to come.

Once that train leaves the station, and people are implementing whatever half-baked plan a leader has or has not shared, it becomes difficult to turn around to try to fill in the gaps.

As a leader, make time to think through what it is you seek to achieve and create the space to effectively communicate it to the people that will support you to achieve it.

“Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly.”

-Simon Sinek.

2.During Conflict

It is the leaders' role to communicate values, behaviors, and standards in word and deed.

Where conflict arises between set expectations and on-the-ground implementation, it is the leader's responsibility to call out the discrepancy and re-align people and processes toward conflict resolution.

This applies both when the leader says or does something that sends a conflicting message, and when individual behaviors conflict with set standards. The leader must call out the perpetrators and or misdirection, send the message that this is not the direction to go, as well as cite and enforce the consequences for repeated breaches.

“It is more rewarding to resolve a conflict than to dissolve a relationship.”

-Josh McDowell.

3.Performance Reinforcement

As a leader, you must be vigilant to look out for the positive behaviors you want to reinforce, then take action to effectively communicate approval and reinforcement. This could look like a compliment, mention, gift, or preferential access. Give whatever monetary or non-monetary reward permitted by policy to reinforce the behavior.

You can also deter negative behaviors through effective communication and action. Only be sensitive to do so with empathy and a clear process that will redirect the negative back to the positive you do want.

“You get what you reward. Be clear about what you want to get and systematically reward it.”

-Bob Nelson.

4.Times of Crisis

No, you cannot bury your head in the sand, and no, you cannot delegate; times of crisis are times to show up and lead, not to ghost or coast.

Crises are opportunities for you as a leader to rise to the occasion to clarify misconceptions, assuage fears, give direction, and most important of all, stand with your troops as you steer them through the storm and land them safely on the other side.

Whatever the future holds, they would be grateful that they went through it with their leader by their side, and you will be grateful that you had the courage to stand and be counted when it mattered most by keeping in constant communication with your people.

“When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity”

-John F. Kennedy.

5.At Termination

As uncomfortable as termination is, it is something that has to be handled by you, the leader. And done so sensitively.

Set aside time to review the options available to the individual or individuals you are parting with, and make sure you personally communicate with them throughout the termination process (preferably live and in person).

This will not only ensure they leave with dignity and goodwill, but will also greatly influence the morale and loyalty of those that remain.

“Dealing with employee issues can be difficult, but not dealing with them. can be worse.”

-Paul Foster

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