Impactful messaging by senior leadership integral to inspiring internal as well as external stakeholders.
Elon Musk's singular tweet on November 7, 2021 wiped off USD 21-billion of Tesla's market cap within hours. On the other hand, Amazon's timing of announcing a $20 price hike for its Prime service in sync with a quarterly earnings report boosted the company's market cap by a phenomenal $190-billion in a single day. Closer home, industry captains like Anand Mahindra and Uday Kotak are leading from the front with their messaging, not only attracting millions of followers on social media but also building a corporate and cultural image for their organisations. In an era where one announcement can change the fortunes of organisaitons, effective communication has emerged as a key imperative for industry and the onus is on the leadership to set the benchmark.
While poor communication can lead to low morale, sub-par performance and even dip in revenues, effective communication not only positively impacts the bottom line, but also enables leaders to rally their team around a shared vision, empower people, build trust and successfully meet organizational goals. Be it an inspiring speech to the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting or a heartfelt address to the team at the Town Hall; from a honest note to the workforce explaining the challenges being faced by the Company, to a line of appreciation for an achiever unit – a well-crafted and sharply delivered message can work wonders for the leader – and the organization.
Be it an interaction with external stakeholders or with an internal audience, effective communicators rely on seven fundamentals when it comes to building an impactful communication.
Effective leaders know when they should communicate and, more importantly, when they need to listen. Show that you care by asking associates for opinions, ideas and feedback. And when they do share their viewpoint, encourage a dialogue and note their inputs for incorporation. It's important to stay in the moment; don't just hear, listen.
It is the ability to grasp the nuances of a prevailing situation before articulation that separates truly great communicators from those who stumble through their interactions. Talk about your ideas, but do it in a way which also speaks to the emotions and aspirations of your audience. Even if you are addressing a group, every person in the group should feel that you are talking to them personally. The challenge is to read the environment well, and then adapt the message to the said environment.
Honesty and transparency can go a long way in breaking down communication barriers. By speaking openly about the company's goals, opportunities and challenges, leaders can build trust amongst their team and foster an environment where team members feel empowered to proactively collaborate. While building trust and sustaining confidence levels is a continuous process, honest and inclusive communication by the leadership can be a great enabler in building a culture of mutual trust where employees go the extra mile for a reliable and credible leader.
As much as a leader's message should be firm and confident, it should also be tuned to the affinity of the audience. Tailoring your communication to create a personalized comfort-zone will ensure a receptive response. Keep it simple and catchy; slogans and statements can be highly effective. Needless to say, a strong grasp of the language and a way with words goes a long way in effective communication.
Empathy has been ranked as the key leadership skill needed for success. The better you get at acknowledging and understanding people's feelings and experiences, the more heard and valued they'll feel – and the more they will be open to your message. While embedding empathy in your communication strikes a chord with the recipient, a candid and transparent approach to communicating can win confidence, break barriers and make a strong connection.
When communicating with team members, speak in specifics and clearly spell out the action expected from them. Define the desired result of a project or strategic initiative and be upfront about what you want to see achieved at each milestone. If goals are being missed, simplifying your message further and provide additional clarity. People will know what is expected of them and feel a deeper sense of ownership.
Last but not the least, plan your communication thoroughly. Timing is everything, be it an internal or an external announcement. Take your time and time it right; consistent and clear communication makes a lasting impression and builds trust. While spontaneity has its charm, planned and structured communication not only leaves little chance for miscommunication, but also allows the opportunity for a deliberate, deeper connection with the audience.
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