Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Communicating Leadership

Whenever you attend any seminars or courses about communication you will usually be told that communication is made up of three elements, words, tone and body language and while these are important elements in immediate face to face communication successfully communication over a period of time depends on one other very important element – behaviour.

How we act sends messages equally, if not more powerfully, than the words, tone and body language we use.

Imagine, for example, the office manager who eloquently extols the virtues of hard work, putting our noses to the grindstone and pulling out all the stops to ensure everyone in the team benefits from the rewards of hard work, who, then, returns to their office to put their feet up while everyone works their fingers to the bone.

Or, perhaps, visualise the Care Home owner who promises prospective clients and their families the best possible care package with person centred approaches and high quality care services but then delivers run of the mill services which are of no real benefit to any individual.

In such instances the message eventually being sent is one of incongruence and leads to distrust of the words, tone and body language being used.

While distrust is the first element of such incongruence in the workplace situation things will inevitably deteriorate further.

As human beings we are more likely to emulate the behaviour of others rather than their professed principles and if someone in a senior role is being incongruent then it is their behaviour that will be unconsciously copied as how they behave is an indication of how they achieved their senior role.

Successful leadership is therefore as much about communicating behaviour as it is about using words, tone and body language.

Naturally the successful leader ‘practices what they preach’ rather than take the ‘do as I say not do as I do’ attitude. The successful leader is a part of the team and encourages the rest by example as much as by other methods of communication.

Honesty is also an integral part in successful leadership. A leader should be prepared to admit they don’t know something but, at the same time, make a commitment to find out. This encourages other members of the team to take the same attitude rather than create a situation where people are afraid to ask for help when they need it.

Successful leadership is about attitude, behaviour and actions as it is about words, tone and body language and all of these elements constitute communication. Communicating leadership is a vitally important element of success and those who consider themselves leaders should be wary of incongruence and creating distrust and poor behaviour in their team.