Communication is the cornerstone of leadership, in any meaningful relationship. But it’s not always easy to get right.
Setting up and scaling a business is hard! But if you can communicate well, it makes things a hell of a lot easier. Having everyone on the same page when it comes to the direction of travel is essential and, if you’re veering off track, difficult conversations are sometimes crucial.
Here are five common mistakes I see in newly appointed leadership teams:
Using ‘I’ instead of ‘we’
Stepping up into a leadership position can seem attractive, it comes with status and usually a salary increase. But what most people don’t realise is, it carries great responsibility. When you’re a leader you are in service to your team and your clients. Whether you’re going through good times or bad, it is always we, never I.
Avoiding difficult conversations
Difficult conversations are necessary for a leadership role (don’t confuse difficult with aggressive) – whether it’s a team member who’s not pulling their weight or a client with issues, sometimes we have to have conversations that aren’t all that comfortable. And because we’re not taught how to hold difficult conversations, new leaders often avoid them altogether or handle them terribly, which leads to an escalated outcome later down the line.
Believing communication stops when you’ve finished speaking
We believe when we have finished speaking to our team, and we have relayed the message, that the responsibility for the issue at hand has moved from us to them. This isn’t true. With all communication, the meaning is in the response it elicits – which means if your team misunderstands you, it’s on you. It’s your responsibility to make sure your team, clients, stakeholders and senior leaders understand what you’re trying to say, and if they don’t, you need to figure out a different way of saying it. This may feel frustrating but it puts the power over an outcome back into your hands.
You are in a leadership position because you spoke up, you got things right and you know the answers. So you can be forgiven for thinking, now that you’re a leader, that you have to know all the answers and do all of the talking. This is a common misconception. Good leaders are great listeners. And they don’t just listen to the words, they listen to the tone, the energy and what’s not being said.
Not being curious
When things go wrong it can be easy to begin a blame game but this is a surefire way to create a toxic culture. The blame game happens when there’s a lack of psychological safety within a team and people are trying to protect themselves. By not being curious you fail to establish what happened and how, you fail to put in fixes at the cause and only paper over the cracks.
Stepping up into a leadership position can be scary, all of a sudden you’re responsible for a lot of people, and you have some pretty big goals that you’re aiming to achieve.
If you can get communication right it’s a game-changer! But what training has been given on how to communicate effectively?
Confidence Club has a number of CPD-accredited workshops to support new leaders to step up confidently.
The Confident Communication workshop covers:
- How to communicate effectively and empathically as a leader
- Impactful listening techniques
- Showcasing status as a leader
- Your leadership communication style