What Is Leadership Communications?
— November 19th, 2020
Effective leadership communications can be defined as the development and delivery of messages that inform, inspire, engage, and unite teams towards a common purpose or goal.
When employees are informed and engaged, they will give extra effort to their work, which increases their overall performance and productivity. Despite this, the leadership communications crisis is deepening with only 1 in 5 people globally believing that leaders demonstrate effective leadership. Poor leadership is proven to cost companies money, with 61% of people boycotting or buying less from a company they believe to have an insufficient leader.
Poor leadership communications do not only result in a loss of customers but play a significant role in every other major area of a company’s success including their ability to contend with competitors, keep employee retention low, and maintain adequate turnover.
The Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy
Effective leadership communication strategies
For any leader aiming to improve their communications, there are a number of beneficial strategies that can help achieve this goal. Having well-thought-out plans in place is the most effective way for leaders to succeed in their overall objective of communicating clearly with employees, shareholders, and customers.
Build an Effective Internal Communications Strategy
Clever leaders know that strong employee communications not only influence every aspect of a person’s working life, they also contribute to a healthier financial bottom line. Engaged employees have a positive impact on a company, and effective internal communications are key to achieving this.
A cohesive, direct, and targeted communications strategy will encourage workers to recommend the employer’s products and services, solve emerging customer needs, and to be more innovative and productive.
Keep Employees Engaged
A competent leader will understand the vital role employee engagement plays in driving employee productivity and business success. Poor communication is one of the biggest causes of low employee engagement as it leads workers to question what role they play in the company, how their superiors view their performance, and where the company is headed.
Valuable conversations are essential to building trust, compassion, and clarity, all of which contribute to healthy relationships in the workplace. By establishing good internal communications, leaders will be able to keep employees informed, motivated, and engaged.
Develop an Efficient Content Strategy
Content strategy refers to the management of any media that a company creates and owns such as written, visual, and downloadable content. It is the piece of a leader’s marketing plan that declares who the business is and what it has to offer.
For content creation to contribute to the growth of a business, it needs to have a well-planned purpose. Some questions to help determine this purpose include:
- Who will be reading the content?
- What problem will be solved for the company audience(s)?
- What makes this content unique?
- What content formats will the focus be placed on?
- What channels will be used?
- How will content creation and publication be managed?
Align Employees with Strategic Goals
Encouraging collaboration and alignment is another key component of a capable leader. This is the most important requirement for creating a sense of allegiance in the workplace that will aid in the achievement of mutual goals.
When employees have a clear understanding of an organization’s vision, mission, strategic targets, and company culture, they will feel more enthusiastic and engaged in their own contributions.
Build a Collaborative Workplace Culture
A collaborative workplace has numerous benefits to offer from greater employee satisfaction to increased idea generation. One of the most important outcomes of a collaborative workplace is the positive effect it has on an organization’s innovation output.
Some tips for creating a collaborative workplace include:
- Cultivate openness and transparency
- Establish a judgment-free idea-sharing culture
- Encourage collaboration across departments
- Lead from the top down
- Offer positivity and rewards
- Have the right technology in place
Additional Communication Leadership Strategies:
- Communicate more often
- Build stronger relationships
- Make the content more engaging
- Build trust and encourage transparency
- Choose the right communication channels and tools
- Support bottom-up conversations
- Encourage more employee-driven content
- Switch to mobile-first employee communication
- Make information easily accessible
- Make employees brand ambassadors
- Measure the effectiveness of leadership communications
Leadership communication examples:
Brené Brown: Be Honest and Open
American professor Brené Brown strongly disagrees with the premise that if a leader does not want to be seen as weak, then they should never display vulnerability or openness. Brown has had a tremendously successful career penning five bestselling books, giving two viral TED talks, and having her own Netflix special, The Call of Courage.
All of these projects offer a valuable viewpoint for those looking to hone their leadership communication skills and to help them understand that being open and honest is one of the best traits a leader can have.
“Vulnerability is not weakness,” Brown explained in her acclaimed 2012 TED talk. “I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. And I’ve come to the belief … that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”
McDonald's: Take a People-Centric Approach
While undergoing an aggressive three-year growth strategy in 2017, McDonald’s understood that their plan to renovate restaurants, refine menus, and update service channels, would depend on alignment with its 2,000 franchise owners who operate 14,000 restaurants across the United States.
Like any big company, McDonald's could have drawn on infinite sets of data, analytics, and statistics to promote agreement in the need to invest in the sweeping change but the internal communications team, under the guidance of its leaders, opted for a more people-centric approach.
The idea of viewing investors as real people with real emotions is close to the heart of Emily Nichols, Internal Communications Manager, who advocated the approach that was ultimately supported and spearheaded by her Senior Director, Jason Greenspan, and members of McDonald’s senior leadership.
“We knew intuitively that when you ask people to take on significant change, their emotions will ebb and flow. So the way we talked to them through our change journey needed to reflect their human nature” — Emily Nichols.
Scott Kelly: Common Ground Brings Teams Together
American astronaut Scott Kelly successfully displayed that the best leaders are capable of rising above the small stuff to help teams achieve their mutual goal. Kelly efficiently demonstrated this, when despite their differences, he and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko worked together on the International Space Station. Kelly and Kornienko had tremendous success, circling the planet for 340 days, and displaying unity, solidarity, and professionalism.
A vital role of any good leader is to convey the common vision, objective, and set of values that are important to the entire team. Kelly’s communication style also included keeping the public in the know at all times, which ultimately helped build public interest and support for NASA’s work.
The Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy
It’s clear to see that communication is a core leadership function and a key characteristic of a good leader. Good communication capabilities in a leader play a role in every major area of an organization. Therefore leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at a company level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale. It is also a leader's duty to think with clarity, express ideas, and share information effectively if they are going to succeed in their roles.