Communication Sequencing - Part 2


Generally speaking, failure at the leadership level is usually because of bad communication rather than bad decision making. You can make a lousy decision but do well with communication and implementation, and it can be a success. On the other hand, you can make a great decision and lose the battle because your communication is weak.

Communication isn’t an exact science. It requires strategy, assessment, execution, reassessment, more execution, and finally evaluation of what worked and what didn’t.

Last week, we talked about the importance of the meeting before the meeting. Anytime you want to start something new, make a change, add a program, or expand the budget, make sure you don’t skip the meeting before the meeting. Be sure to meet with every key influencer ahead of time. This transitions perfectly into what we're talking about this week, which is talking to the right people at the right time.


This second important principle to remember is that with any big change, you need a plan for communication. Who should you tell first? Who should you tell next? Who would be hurt if they found out about it from someone else in your organization?

Think about this in your own family. Let’s pretend you are the dad and you just found out you are being transferred. You are going to move your family of six from Minneapolis to Philadelphia.

If this happened, you would think very carefully about sequencing your communication. You wouldn’t tell your kids before you tell your wife. You wouldn’t tell your third grader before you tell your teens. You wouldn’t tell your neighbors or friends at church before you tell all your kids. No, you would carefully sequence the communication, giving each person time to emotionally respond. You would then recruit his or her help in telling the next person.

At the church I helped lead for twenty years, we initiated a great deal of change. Our typical communication sequence went something like this:

  1. Leadership team
  2. Board members
  3. Entire staff
  4. Key leaders, influencers, and stakeholders (We would take the time to write their names out and determine who would be talking to them.)
  5. Other invested volunteers
  6. Entire congregation (in business this might be your key customers or clients)

I don’t think anyone ever gets to keep the Great Communicator trophy. It’s something you might get for a season, but you start from ground zero the next time a big change is imminent.

How can this communication strategy impact your leadership and organization? How has it already helped? Make sure to subscribe to so you don't miss the final segment in this 3-part series on communication strategies.