In my role as a leadership coach, a question I am often asked is: "What is the most important leadership trait I should consider developing first?"
Very interesting question, because there are several essential traits that need to be developed as early as possible, but choosing just one - the most important, is a "no-brainer" for me.
Nothing puts you in the "poor leader" category more swiftly than inadequate communication skills.
Staff view an inadequate communicator as someone who is unclear, ambiguous, says too little, speaks up too late, or not at all (keeps secrets unnecessarily) and most importantly, someone who doesn't relate to their viewpoint.
Leaders should resolve to communicate:
• Using appropriate methods (memo or meeting, e-mail or notice-board)
• From the right perspective (talk about we not I and put things personally - "You will find" rather than "This is the case")
• Using good communication principles (keep it simple, make it clear, and be precise and succinct)
• Explaining both the what and the why of things.
Because communication is the most important aspect of a leader's role, if you feel you need to bone up on it, do so. Ignoring failings or uncertainties, risks disaster.
Your early communications will be looked at or listened to carefully. Lines will be read between and inferences about you and the way you do things will be drawn - for good or ill. Take care!
While thinking about communication, make one firm rule for yourself: Always be courteous to your staff.
The old adage that politeness costs nothing is true. Any temptation that staff may provide to descend into insults or even to be offhand may cause problems and will certainly not engender respect. This applies whatever the provocation - and, believe me, sooner or later if you lead people, there will be some!
So keep cool, count to ten if necessary, and moderate your language and your manner.
A final point about communication is that you need to be constantly well informed about what is going on around the organisation and in any other area that is important to you.
Never forget that informal communications are as important here as formal ones.
You need to develop a good network of contacts and here I must flag the importance of the grapevine. This exists in every organisation.
• Discover how it works and who is key to its operation
• Get yourself "plugged in"
• Remember that communication is two-way (you must contribute to receive)
Use it constructively: ignore and do not start rumours, use it for firm information, early warning, and dissemination and keep your eyes and ears open.
Keep In Touch:
Take away communication from an organisation and not much is left. Yet, the subject is often neglected. It is the foundation of a good relationship between leader and staff and thus the basis for success.
Make sure you take action to create good - two-way - communication by, for example:
• Practising LBWA: that is Leadership by Walking About. Talk to people informally, ask, listen, take notes, and ensure feedback.
• Regularly informing people of your thinking: by memo, e-mail, at meetings, etc. Tell them what your vision is, what you plan, hope and intend, what's happening - and how it will affect them.
• Systematise the processes involved: make aspects of what you do formal and regular (e.g. regular departmental meetings and updates on operational issues).
Fundamental to good leadership is being seen as open and honest, concerned that people should know what is going on and concerned also to encourage and receive their inputs.
I think you will also enjoy reading this: "What Is Successful Leadership Really About"
Today's News: In the most recent issue of Fortune magazine, Jill Konrath's "Selling to Big Companies" was selected as a "must read" book that belongs in everyone's briefcase.
Jiill said: "I'm honored that it was chosen as one of only eight books recommended - especially since the competitors were all the other good sales books ever written!"
Also, here's a link to the entire Fortune article:Download Fortune-SelllingtoBigCompanies-9-08.pdf
Way to go, Crazy Sister !
Final blogpost recommendation of the week for you: "How Acting Skills Helps Selling" from Drew Stevens.
Tomorrow: We are working on the next Top Sales Experts ebook, so I will be fully extended this weekend, plus we are also preparing for the launch of TSE 2.0 -exciting times! As ever, wherever you are, have a great w/e yourself, and be sure to make it back here next week - JF
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