If you are leading anything, you often lead through change. And any change can be messy. Even the right change can lead to a trainwreck if not led well. If it's ever important to lead smart--it is when something is changing--and communication is vital to a successful change.
In Simply Strategic Stuff, I wrote a chapter called Avoid These Classic Communication Blunders (#62, page 132). What follows are some expanded thoughts from that chapter...
Classic Communication Blunders
- Say too little. The "I'm the leader--just trust me" line doesn't work these days. People do trust you, but they want to hear your thinking and see your heart.
- Say too much. You don't have to give every detail to every person. For most people, keep it high level and full of vision.
- Talk to the wrong people. You have to target your communication. For example, you don't want to stand up on Sunday morning and tell the congregation that the building project is delayed and over budget. Part of the crowd will be bored, while others will feel the information is too general.
- Lose sight of emotional impact. Remember, when things are changing, emotions are high. Statements can be made that have lots of energy. Give people time to emotionally adjust to the change, and don't take everything they say in the initial moments as what they really think.
- Forget to sequence. You don't want your elders finding out from a teen that you have cancelled the traditional service. Think very strategically about who needs to know what by when, and in what order.
- Rush the process. Since you are the leader, you probably have processed the information before anyone else. Your grief or excitement or passion is behind you. It's easy to rush others expecting them to catch up. Give them time.
I know I've made each of these blunders on at least one occasion. Learn from my mistakes...it's easy to lead when everything is static. Real leadership comes out when you are processing change.