Real Leadership Issues Masquerading As Communication Issues
Last week I wrote about the communication challenges leaders face and noted that a significant portion of my work with executives boils down to communication. Communicating powerfully is, after all, a core element of leadership effectiveness. But it is also important to recognize that leadership will face many issues that are disguised as communication shortcomings. In fact, if there were an all-business prize for “biggest scapegoat,” communication would take the cake.
Communication is always at the top of the list of areas for improvement on 360-degree reviews and organizational surveys. But often, miscommunication is just a symptom of a different issue. So, before you start setting up a new newsletter, scheduling more town halls, or online forums, consider if communication is truly the root cause.
Here are a few common miscommunication issues and the alternate explanations that actually require management attention:
Of course, executive communication skills are the glue that holds team effectiveness together. But no amount of excellent communication skills can substitute for rolling up one’s sleeves as a leader and doing the work to address them. So before diving in and treating the symptom, it is important to consider the possibility of a different root issue.
Planning For The Unpredictable
Last week’s winter storms affected nearly everyone in the U.S., with Texas in particular grinding to a halt as officials worked frantically to restore power outages and replenish essential supplies. Though many are critical of the state’s preparedness and response, the weather event is also unprecedented: it was the worst winter storm the state had seen in more than 100 years, leaving more than 4 million without power and resulting in dozens of deaths. This left me thinking about how “unprecedented” seems to be a theme lately…
Leaders across industries have learned a lot about managing unexpected challenges. Business leaders have learned immensely about the resiliency of our teams, our businesses, and our customers in the midst of unpredictability. But these lessons are only valuable if they inform action. If nothing else, the pandemic and last week’s snowstorm (among many other examples) should incentivize you to consider unpredictability when forecasting and planning for your company’s future.
I encourage you to spend some time thinking about how you and your business can prepare for the unexpected. That way, you won’t be as caught off guard when the next “unprecedented” situation presents itself, and can outperform your competitors by adapting quickly.
Here’s a resource from McKinsey + Company regarding risk management and how companies can better position themselves in uncertain times:
Delta Airlines has set the standard for safety and customer service as the pandemic put a stranglehold on the airline industry’s revenue streams. In an email to customers on February 10, CEO Ed Bastian shared sentiments of hope and optimism while also doubling down on the airline’s commitment to safety. I thought this inc.com article highlighted key lessons from the email and the airline’s communication strategy that all business leaders can learn from in 2021: