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The Necessity of Agility in Leadership Communication

As a leader it’s important to remember that the “how” always trumps the “what” when it comes to communicating with your team, peers, your boss, etc. Making the “how” the priority means you must have the ability to be agile in communication, constantly adjusting your messaging in efforts to get your point of view across.

A big piece of adjusting the message for the audience is the verbiage you use. Verbiage is significantly important. Not only should verbiage used be at a level that the audience understands without even the perception of disrespect, it should be used in a manner that is engaging.

As a leader, remember that communication is more about the knowledge, the title, engagement…the perception of your audience than it is about yours. In the example of someone on your team, the goal is to create a culture of accountability without dismissing efforts to continue to drive engagement. Below are examples that balance both.

  • Your performance isn’t meeting expectations.-OR-Walk me through the behaviors you focused on this week relative to the goals we discussed. What connection do you see from those behaviors to the goals and how they showed up in the results?
  • What’s your plan for the week?-OR-How do you plan to give your team clarity around expectations, enable them to execute and follow up to ensure expectations are met daily?
  • We’re behind on our sales goal. How are you going to make it up by the end of the month?-OR-We have “x” days to make up the last $xxx for the month. That’s an avg of $xx/day. What’s your strategy to ensure we fulfill our commitment-How will operations contribute to the plan, sales, marketing, merchandising, client experience, etc.? How will you follow up with each to ensure the needed contribution is happening to fulfill the goal?
  • I need you to stop the bleeding with turnover.-OR-For our next touch base, be prepared to speak to root cause for turnover broken down by Dept. and by PT/FT. I’m seeking to understand from the employee’s perspective what we could be doing differently as a leadership team during onboarding, training and post 90 days.
  • Business was horrible this past month. What are you going to do about it?-OR-Let’s meet on Monday to brainstorm and problem solve challenges with business. I’d like your thoughts.
  • Alright team, this is what we’re going to do.-OR-Okay team, I’d like to get everyone’s insight on the best course of action moving forward.
  • You really seem to have lost your focus and it’s impacting the business.-OR-You seem distracted lately. Is there something I can do to support you or the team?
  • I need you to get back to me asap.-OR-I look forward to your response at your earliest convenience.
  • I’m not going to recognize you for doing your job.-OR-You’ve nailed the core aspects of your job. Now the expectation is for you to exceed the goals on a consistent basis and help move the organization forward.
  • Your department is bringing up the rear.-OR-There’s an opportunity for your team to really accelerate performance to help the overall team achieve its goals. What are some behavioral expectations you can put in place to make that happen starting today?
  • Are you done for the day?-OR-Let’s walk through each of the tasks assigned for today so you can show me what you’ve accomplished. It will also give me a chance to recognize the team for their execution.
  • These are the things I will need to see from you going forward. Got it?-OR-Let’s make sure we’re aligned on expectations going forward. And at the end, I’d like you to communicate back to me your take-aways of the expectations.

How could you balance engagement with accountability culture by leading with communication agility?

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