Leadership is much more than messaging and communication, but effective communication is critical. The methods and means of communication vary with the type and size of the organization and at what level the leader resides. Communication can be very informal in a small team if the team is cohesive and experienced. A senior leadership challenge is to ensure the message gets to the junior employee. Providing context is one of the most essential purposes of communication. When people understand the importance of their work, how it fits into the organization, and feel valued, they will perform better, feel free to innovate, and use initiative. The key is transparency and authenticity from the leader. To be authentic, the leader must listen well and take 100% responsibility for communicating.
There are many means and methods for communication, and the leader needs to choose the most effective for the message and the task. When I led Headquarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division, we had multiple functions in support of the Division and the Division Headquarters, which generated significant coordination requirements and planning. After a few miscues, we established a communication protocol: email for planning and information; phone calls or face-to-face for urgent issues, matters of contention, and coordination; face-to-face for bad news or if time or distance precludes a phone call; never send an angry email. Complete every order with the appropriate means of reporting and time. We didn’t have text messaging, so I suggest adding text messages for simple coordination, one sentence or less. These are suggestions; you must consciously decide how you will communicate in your organization and in each situation.
It’s too easy to micromanage with email and text, resist the temptation and instead provide a precise order and let the team leader lead. In the Marines, we have a five-paragraph order that ensures we provide the right information to execute an operation. The five-paragraph order presents the big picture (Situation); the who, what, when, where, how, and purpose (Mission); the expected result and concept of the work, the tasks for each group or individuals (Execution); the logistics and administration required (Admin and Logistics); who will be in charge and the means and methods of communication (Command and Signal). I recommend that young leaders use this SMEAC format daily for every task to provide context to their people, and their team gets used to receiving the information in a standard form.
Today, think about how you communicate with your people and what you can do better! Whatever you decide, understand that context helps people understand their importance, and nothing is more important than your people.
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Remember, “all things are possible through prayer and heavy deadlifts.”™