In the Navy SEAL teams, there are three things we must do perfectly to be effective operators: Move, Shoot and Communicate. Communication being of the utmost importance. As a leader, great communication is critical not just to provide details about the mission and vision of what you are trying to accomplish, but also to motivate, inspire and manage relationships to move people in a desired direction.
When in a leadership position, we often don't realize that the spotlight is always on us. Everything we say and do is being scrutinized, for better or for worse. By accepting both the honor and challenge of leading a team, it is important to remember that what we do both on and off the "battlefield" effects our ability to lead. Words and actions can become habits and habits contribute to defining our character. Leadership is a privilege that must be earned every day.
Leadership communication is much more than the words we say and how we articulate what we want to team to "hear." Effective communication is also about emotional intelligence, knowing your audience and active listening.
Here are five things to remember when communicating with your team.
Be present. Business executives, entrepreneurs and leaders of all kinds usually have days with little to no downtime. We rush from meeting to meeting to conference calls rarely taking the time to clear our heads and reset for the next item on our agenda. Most studies show that humans are truly productive for only a few minutes each hour. Mostly due to distractions. Whether you are chatting with a colleague in the break room, on a client call with other team members or leading a company meeting, be actively present in the moment. Be engaged with your audience no matter how trivial you think the conversation may be. That way they know you care.
Ask the right questions. Some of the best advice I have ever received was simply about asking the right questions that will foster productive and intelligent communication between the team. As leaders, one of the greatest privileges we have is building a great team. Hopefully, one comprised of people much smarter and more talented than ourselves! And if that is the case, why would we spend all our time giving directives and assuming we know the most in the room. By guiding a conversation with a specific goal in mind, we accomplish much more by leveraging the talent surrounding us.
Speak less, listen more. Similar to asking the right questions is actively listening to those speaking. We often find ourselves in the bad habit of thinking about what we are going to say next as opposed to actually listening to the other people speaking. When we do that, we aren't truly engaged in the conversation. Leadership isn't about standing on a soap box shouting orders. You often notice that the wisest people listen more and speak less. The less we talk, the more we will learn from those around us.
Work on emotional intelligence. This is a topic that can't be covered in one bullet point but worth mentioning because it is often overlooked or deemed an unnecessary quality. Emotional intelligence is not a softer-side leadership quality, it's imperative. Being self-aware, disciplined, empathetic, and remaining calm under pressure are all aspects of emotional intelligence that can improve leadership ability. These emotional competencies are not innate talents but rather learned capabilities that have to be worked on and developed over time. So get on it!
Stay calm and be positive. Calm is contagious. And so is panic.Smile. Carry yourself with confidence. And try not to wear your emotions on your sleeve. I am not saying to deny our normal human functions but be aware that effective communication is about 7% the words we say. The rest is about body language, tone and delivery.
These are just a few tips I suggest when performing keynote presentations or providing leadership training to companies all over the world. And tools I have to remind myself of every day.