To see real change and gain significant benefits from their strategies, leaders need to establish an environment of trust. Leaders who are trusted — even in times of great difficulty — are skilled communicators.
When leading in times of change and transition (and who isn’t?), remember communications fundamentals, including these:
• Communicate relentlessly. Communicate information, thoughts and ideas clearly — and frequently — in different media. Find many ways to share information; keep processes open and transparent.
• Listen. Good communicators are also good listeners. Allow people to air their gripes and complaints. Pay attention to what others are saying, thinking and feeling. What is said, and what is left unsaid.
• Explain. People are often skeptical of change. Share your thinking and the trade-offs you’ve weighed — not just the final decision or strategy.
• Articulate expectations. Clearly explaining why, how and when things need to happen will set expectations and create a healthy level of stress and pressure. It also establishes a mechanism for monitoring and addressing performance.
• Be visible. If you communicate well, you won’t be out of sight. Find ways to interact with all of your stakeholder groups.
• Confront problems and conflict. Don’t postpone dealing with challenging issues or conflict. By avoiding the difficult people or difficult issues, you can do great harm to yourself, your co-workers and your organization.
• Be honest and sincere. Communicate truthfully and honestly, follow through with what you say and avoid deception.
This article was adapted from the CCL publication Leading With Authenticity in Times of Transition.