Today, we are going to be talking about how communication makes you a more effective, powerful leader. And we’re going to be wrapping this up with just five points. That’s it. That’s all we have. It’s five points.
The first one being when you communicate, you have to communicate authentically. Be an authentic communicator because people can read crap from a mile away now.
People can detect if you’re just winging it, if you’re not really sincere about what you’re trying to say, if you’re not being as honest as you can be, if you can’t even believe in what you’re saying.
People can be perceptive to that—especially your team, who will be somewhat familiar with you. Depending on how closely you work with them, they will be able to tell if you’re insincere with what you’re trying to say.
And the downside here is if you’re inauthentic, and you haven’t bought into the things you’re telling them, then they’re not going to be buying into it either.
You see, every time you communicate as a leader, there are only two things that can happen. Number one is you actually direct people the way you want them to go, and they move along with you. And number two is you lose leadership creds—you lose points with your team, and they’re not going to go along with you.
Which one would you rather be? Do you want to be able to inspire and move people where you want them to go to your vision, which you should communicate every so often?
Or do you want to lose points as a leader where people will say, “He doesn’t really believe what he’s trying to say? He’s not sincere enough. I don’t feel he’s sincere and I’m not going to believe it. I’m not going to go along with this. I’m not committed to this”?
Authenticity plays a big part in how you communicate as a leader.
The second point of how you can communicate powerfully and effectively as a leader is you have to explain the context.
You have to keep telling people the why behind things. Why am I saying this? Why should you get to know this? Why should you move along with what I’m saying? Why should you commit?
So one example is recently we decided to go for a three-day workweek instead of a two-day workweek.
We are doing a hybrid working environment, but we believe that the best work we produce is when we are actually around each other—having that camaraderie, having that better morale. All that because we’re able to talk with each other, shake each other’s hands, and it’s so easy for us to be able to ask, “Hey, how are you doing?”
This is super important for me and my team because the culture is strengthened around the bond between team members. If I did not explain why and just said to the team, “Hey, you know what? I think that it’s important for us to come to the office three days a week.” And that’s it.
Or maybe I could tell them a little bit about it. I’ll just tell them, “Because I want to see you guys and I don’t explain the rest, that it’s good for our culture, good for our morale. It’s actually what separates us from our competitors, it’s actually what makes us the best and number one here in the Philippines in the SEO realm.” Then people will not buy into what I’m trying to communicate, then people will not commit.”
The more people who don’t buy into what you just said, the weaker your momentum will be. So as much as possible you would want to explain why you’re saying things and clarify everything that you can clarify, all the nooks and crannies to your people in the team so that they can figure out for themselves in a clear, concise way in their minds if they want to jump on the train or not.
And that leads us to our third point on how you can communicate powerfully as a leader and that is transparency.
Now, this is different from authenticity, because transparency is all about over-communicating, not being sincere. Yes, you’ve got to be sincere. That’s authenticity. Transparency is about over-communicating and saying things that make you feel naked in front of the crowd.
That means that there are some things you’re not so comfortable sharing with other people. There are some things that you feel that might be misconstrued or might be misinterpreted by some people, and they will be turned off and taken aback.
But, sometimes some people need to hear these things in the crowd as well. And that would go a long way if you communicate that with them.
So let’s go with the example of the three-day workweek. I chose to tell people that it’s not just expensive for everyone to come to the office because you’re going to be paying for your commute, you’re going to be paying for meals here in the office, but it’s also expensive for the company itself because we have to open the office and pay for all the electricity, pay for the coffee beans, pay for the toilet paper, the water and so on.
And I also chose to say that we are committed to actually raising everyone’s salary. I don’t think any business owner here, especially if it’s a Filipino-Chinese business owner, will say that to their people. Right?
Because salaries are a direct output or expense from your company’s net revenue. But I still chose to say it.
That is over-communicating, that is being transparent. And that goes a long way because now people are thinking, “Oh, okay, this guy is going to take care of me even if he is asking us to go here with all of the inflation happening, with all of the gas prices going up, this person is going to take care of us. The company is going to take care of us. They care about us. They discuss raising the salary right here in this town hall meeting where other companies would not dare say anything about salary raises. Right?”
That is being transparent and people do appreciate that especially millennials and centennials, the younger generation, we appreciate transparency.
The fourth way for you to communicate powerfully or effectively as a leader is you choose your audience. There are things that you have to just communicate to some select few people sometimes. You cannot involve everyone. What do I mean?
So in SEO Hacker, we have probationary employees and we have regular employees and they’re separated. And then we have the team leaders and then we have the team representatives. They’re different kinds of people.
There are some things that I can only communicate to regular team members because probationary team members are not yet going to be affected by these changes.
You have to choose your audience. You can’t communicate everything to everyone all the time. Some leaders are just so pumped that they just say stuff to everyone at the wrong time, right?
So you got to have timing involved and you’ve got to have the right audience involved and make sure sometimes it’s just the right audience in the room. It might be the right thing for the right people.
But if you involve the wrong people in the room, along with the right people, even if you say the right things there, but it’s the wrong thing to some people, it’s going to backfire on you.
And that’s sometimes how gossip starts and spreads if you do it that way.
This is also applicable when you’re trying to reprimand someone. When someone does something wrong, make sure to take that person aside privately. Have a one-on-one chat with that person.
Tell that person, “This is what you did and this is why it’s wrong and this is why it’s bad, and this is how much it damages our team, our organization. Please don’t do that again.” Or if you have a retraining course, tell them, “Go through retraining.”
If you don’t do that and you reprimand this person publicly or in front of his or her team, that will damage you as a leader because now people are going to be thinking, “Oh, this guy is going to reprimand publicly. If I make a mistake, then that’s what’s going to happen to me.”
So what happens is people will never want to make a mistake. And what happens because of that is it limits your organization because mistakes are part of innovation. Failures are a part of success. You cannot split the two. You cannot take failure out of success.
You make so many failures and mistakes that you figure out how it is to be successful. That’s what life is about. That’s how you become successful in life.
And lastly, our fifth point in how you can communicate more powerfully is simply to listen more.
You see, communication is a two-way street. It’s not a monologue. We don’t say, “You should monologue as a leader.” We say, “You should communicate as a leader.” And communication is a two-way thing.
It’s building relationships. Relationships will not grow when only one party keeps talking all the time and the other party just listens. Relationships grow and flourish when there is communication happening, meaning, it’s two-way -someone speaks, someone listens, and vice versa. You take turns and you get to understand each other more and you get to know the context of why more.
And if you notice the best marriages are actually the marriages that practice what we just talked about right now. If you’re authentic to your spouse, if you’re transparent, you over-communicate, they know you’re sincere in a husband and wife context, we explain why if we get mad, if we have a conflict with our spouse, we tell them why. It’s so important to do that.
Why are we not doing that for everyone on our team?
Everything we discussed here is actually so simple, but it’s also very, very true. And you can practice it in your organization and especially in relationships that you have in your life, maybe with your spouse, your partner, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your children, or your siblings. Practice this kind of communication, and that relationship will improve 100%.
Now, listening is so important because you wouldn’t want to always be the one talking. You can only really paint the context well and explain why if you listen enough.
This is why you should start meetings in town hall gatherings by asking questions.
Maybe before the town hall meetings, you ask questions to a group of people, certain teams in your company, and you’ve heard them out and you’ve considered what they think before you go ahead and give that meeting and give that talk.
And when people have reactions, listen to them. Consider that. I’m not telling you to be subservient to them. You are the leader. You are the leader for a reason and purpose. And at the end of the day, it’s your neck on the line. It’s you who is going to be thrown under the bus if you make a wrong decision.
I’m not saying follow everything they’re saying. All I’m saying is to listen to them, make sure they feel heard, and make sure you consider their thoughts. And then respond to them, explain to them, tell them why especially if you made a decision contrary to what they expressed to you.
So to wrap things up, I hope you realize how important it is to communicate well and effectively in your organization as the leader.
Because if you don’t communicate well, it damages your organization, and you lose trust. And if you lose trust, people get more toxic, there’s more politics that’s going to go on in your organization, and you’ll be less and less successful in your projects, in serving your clients and customers.
But if you communicate powerfully if you practice it in your team, you’re going to be building trust, you’re going to be building unity, there’s going to be less to minimal to no gossip in your team, no toxicity, no politics.
It’s going to be a dream team for you to work in and you’re going to find so much pleasure leading that team, and finally, you’re going to have a huge headway toward success.
Now, my challenge for you is as we wrap things up, ask your team how well you listen and communicate with them.
Just ask them, “Hey, is there something I can improve with how I communicate to everyone in the organization or is there something I can improve in my listening to people in the organization? Do I listen enough?”
Just ask that simple question from your team. Take note of how they answer, write these things down, and try to see: Are you an effective communicator, and where can you improve?