Leadership Communication: 3 Tips to Improve Clarity

What can you do to refine your leadership communication skills to harness the power of laser-focused clarity? I know that when I’m really clear, people can more easily commit to action and make needed changes. But often I get bogged down in details or tend to confuse the issues with unnecessary stories.

Like many people who pride themselves on being a bit of a raconteur, I know a lot of stuff, read a lot of books, and can go off on a tangent. While some of this (I hope!) may be entertaining, (here’s a video sample…) I wonder if I could be more direct. Like Jack Webb, who played Joe Friday, the police detective in Dragnet, “The facts, ma’am, just the facts!

Yet stories are essential for anyone who wants to influence others. Stories are the way we connect on an emotional level, to universal human desires, and to the unconscious brain where we begin to make decisions.

I try to help people in organizations refine leadership abilities by improving their communication skills, and clarity is a big thing with me. I write about it in my first book, Selling for Geniuses. Another author, Marcus Buckingham, The One Thing You Need to Know, provides several useful tips on improving clarity and I share them with you here:

  1. Take time to reflect. Most great leaders take some time out of their busy schedules for reflection. This time dedicated to thinking is incredibly valuable, allowing high-performing leaders to achieve remarkable success, in spite of complexity. Some use their travel time for reflection; others utilize exercise or meditative practices. Any chosen method should allow you to sift through the clutter, define essentials and focus on what really matters.
  2. Select your heroes with great care. What gets recognized gets repeated. The individuals you recognize and celebrate become role models for others. Look to the people and events that you want others to emulate. When you recognize a high-achieving performer, be explicit in your recognition by explaining, in precise terms, how he or she served your defined customer, the core strength he/she demonstrated, how he/she met or exceeded your core metric and the actions he/she took to bring the desired future one step closer.
  3. Practice. Discipline yourself to practice using your words, images and stories in a way that helps employees perceive the future with clarity. The best leaders don’t try to come up with newer and better speeches; rather, they practice and refine their favorite speeches, focusing on the material that is real and pertinent. They aren’t afraid to repeat themselves. Discipline in refining your descriptions of the future will enable you to lead your people through uncertainty and anxiety toward a clearly defined goal.

Leaders must never forget the universal need for security that is created through community, clarity, authority and respect. Clarity is the most likely element to engender confidence, persistence, resilience and creativity.

Today’s most respected and successful leaders are able to transform fear of the unknown into clear visions of whom to serve, core strengths to leverage and actions to take. They enable us to pierce the veil of complexity and identify the single best vantage point from which to examine our complex roles. Only then can we take clear, decisive action.

What do you think about this? Are you practicing your communication skills, and are you working on clarity?

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