I’m going to be very, very practical in this Leading Thoughts, so I hope you’ll read, ponder, and act as you think you ought to when you’re done. Of course, this is what I hope you’ll always do with these Leading Thoughts—read, ponder, and act!
There are two facts I want to impress upon you. First, lack of communication is one of the biggest problems I run into in nearly every firm I work with. I know it is a problem in most firms because I read the same studies and articles you probably do. Leaders think they are communicating with everyone who works with them, but usually they are not. They think they are getting all the needed facts across, but often they fall short.
I’ll add to this that since leadership is mainly about building a culture, leaders ought not just be communicating facts but transmitting the stories, values, vision, and lore that builds a culture leading to success. Again, communication is the key, but most leaders fail at this.
Why do they fail? Many reasons. They don’t prioritize communication. Or, they emphasize processes and procedures in their communication but not values, vision, and fun. Or, they aren’t good communicators themselves, but they won’t get coaching or turn the communicating over to someone else. And so it goes.
Now my second point—and the good news—is that technology is making this whole communicating business so much easier for every leader. For example, I have recently recommended to some leading executives that they do a podcast just for the people in their firm. At first this sounded to them like a huge task. Then I explained that a fine podcast can be done on a cell phone with a relatively inexpensive microphone attached. They can sit in a quiet room, adjust the sound themselves, record a 10-15 minute podcast, and hand the resulting file over to their tech people to distribute.
One firm I know has been dramatically impacted by this. The CEO now does a fun, story-filled, celebratory but detailed-when-it-needs-to-be podcast. It is recorded on his iPhone and a Rode microphone. (Yes, I spelled that right. Check this brand out. This company’s mic is what I use for my two podcasts.) And this CEO’s firm has been changed by it. First, the folks in the firm get to know their CEO in a warm, welcoming fashion they hadn’t before. Second, he shares values and vision and the path to success through stories, commendations, and through awards. At my recommendation, he even added incentives to listen: “Free lunch for everyone who listens to this podcast and answers this riddle.”
Even if you don’t want to go to the extent of a podcast, most everyone has a voice memo app on their cell phones. This allows you to record a memo and then send it out by text or email.
Keep it short. Keep it informative. Celebrate. Give incentives. Offer information that helps people work smarter. Mention progress toward goals. Always keep vision in view.
You probably have some of the best culture-building leadership tools in your hand or pocket right now. Don’t neglect them. Build the culture your firm needs with good communication. And remember this doesn’t have to be only in live, time-consuming meetings. It can be via fun, informative, transforming audio recordings people can listen to on the drive to work.