“I thought his press conference the other day was brilliant; though brilliant might be the wrong word to use at a time like this. I think you saw compassion and that first day you saw leadership. He was a strong presence. He had human interest stories and he had honesty when he said, ‘I’ve never dealt with this before.’ When you’re sitting there you’ve got a guy who is strong, compassionate and has a plan.”
– The Washington Post, 12.1.07
The Leader: Joe Gibbs, President and Head Coach.
The audience: players and coaches of the Washington Redskins football team.
The challenge: Leading the team in the aftermath of player Sean Taylor’s sudden death.
What talk have you given to the players in your organization in the past 30 days? What was the challenge? How would the reviews have read on your leadership performance?
I heard this review last week of a leader’s message at his company’s holiday party –
“Made me want to puke.”
Something about an absence of authenticity. The audio didn’t match the video.
The need for Leaders to communicate clearly with those that follow is ever present. Interestingly, this topic has been coming up a lot in my conversations with Leaders over the past few weeks.
- Two companies are merging and the two Leaders must communicate their motivations and excitement to the newly combined staff
- The President of a national real estate development company must re-assure his people as they face a new climate of uncertainty
- The CEO of a fast-growing digital company must both applaud the year’s results and re-set the bar for greater growth challenges ahead
Strategist David Woods says “companies don’t need more communication. They need more clarity.”
- Clarity of the vision of the company.
- Clarity of where the company is going (long term and short term).
- Clarity of how the company will get there.
- Clarity of individual roles and how those roles create value toward the vision.
- Clarity of how roles must intertwine in order to achieve extraordinary results.
- Clarity of how the company will hold itself and each individual accountable.
How do you achieve more clarity in your communications so that you don’t sound like an adult in a Charlie Brown movie – “BLAH BLAH blah blah BLAH?”
How do you “touch” your listeners? This is an immense topic, but I’ll offer three thoughts:
- Integrity is required in your physical, intellectual and emotional presence. Does your audio match your video? What is the rest of your body saying while your mouth is moving?
- Emotions trump intellect when it comes time to act. What is your audience feeling and what do you want them to feel? How do those feelings manifest in you? Are you honest with your audience?
- Stories trump concepts for clarity. People remember a story. People can see themselves in a story. What chapter of the story is your company in? How can you empower your message by telling a story?
Finally, here’s a no-lose proposition for your message to the company in the next week.
You’re a Leader only because others choose to follow you. Express your thanks to them. Pause, be fully present, and speak from your heart. Tell a story of something you remember them doing for you or the company this year. This works in group settings, or one-on-one. Try it.
May the Blessings of this Season be yours.