Who Do You Blame for Lacking Leadership Communication Skills?

Who Do You Blame for Lacking Leadership Communication Skills? 150 150 Jennifer Ledet

In any of your training as an executive leader, have you heard the term tête á tête? Probably not.

Down on the Lousiana bayou, I’ve often heard this term. When Mama said to me, “We need to have a tête á tête!” she wanted to have a talk with me head to head and eyeball to eyeball. It also meant I was likely in some kind of trouble. (I seem to remember a lot of those tête á têtes, and that’s because I had/have a tête dur – a hard head – and was always causing some kind of misère in one way or another!) In a business setting, though, it would simply involve having a one-on-one conversation with someone, an in-person meeting.

How often do you Facebook message the guy in the cubicle next to you rather than walk over and have a tête á tête? Do you send a text to your friend to see how she’s doing after a serious family problem instead of giving her a call or dropping by to visit?

Of course, there are times when emailing and texting are the most appropriate forms of communication. I believe, though, that as a leader, you’ll realize a huge amount of value when you connect with your team members in person. Call a meeting when you need to or walk over and meet in person!

Do You Blame the Meeting Itself?

I’ve heard the complaints before: “But most meetings completely waste my time. I’m suffering from an agonizing condition known as death-by-meeting!” More often than not, it’s because the leader and/or attendees failed to properly prepare, or include the right people, or keep the meeting focused and productive. Don’t blame the meeting itself!

Each time you have intentional person-to-person meetings, you can see your fellow team member roll his eyes at your new procedures, or cross her arms in disagreement, or nod his head in excitement. It’s invaluable in helping you “hear” what’s not being said! Yes, using email often seems more expedient and efficient, but not if you consider the cost of what you’re missing by not conducting an in-person meeting.

When you take into account that your tone of voice and body language are completely removed from your written message, you leave a lot of room for interpretation (or misinterpretation), assumptions, and misunderstanding.

Do You Blame the Medium?

As an executive leader, when communicating crucial information to team members, think strategically about the medium you use. If you want to get honest feedback, express concerns, or give performance feedback, your objectives are best served if you meet tête á tête. Connect with others rather than talk at them.

One of the managers I was training talked about his team members this way: “I sent him a message and I TOLD him to . . . .” And I’m sure he did tell his team member what he wanted done. But did he give the person a chance to ask questions or paraphrase back to the manager his directions? Did the manager actually demonstrate what he wanted done? I doubt it.

Our text messages are often so cryptic and riddled with abbreviations and code words, you can’t know if the recipient understood your message or whether your code was misconstrued.

For example:

HTH! CWYL mayB F2F!

Translation:

Hope that helps! Chat with you later maybe face to face!

The power and efficiency of sitting down eyeball to eyeball – tête á tête – with your team members for a person-to-person convo is underrated. You’ll be surprised what you hear that’s not being said. So who do you blame for lacking leadership communication skills? I think you can draw your own conclusions . .

CHIME IN! What will you:

  • start doing,
  • stop doing, or
  • continue doing

to ace leadership communication with your team members? Use the comment box below to share your action plan with us!

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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems

Photo by Elaine Baylon on Reshot

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