Say what you think and feel to the people you believe will benefit from your message. For example, I once tried to tell a younger colleague that our clients were responding negatively to his hairstyle, which was a long mullet with an even longer braided rattail. In the beginning I was so worried about hurting his feelings that I shared some vague feedback with him about impressions that left him confused and not knowing what I was trying to tell him. My message left him with the feeling that he needed to improve something about himself. But he didn’t know what it was! Practice being open: be clear, as opposed to sending hidden messages. If a person walks away from a conversation with you and asks, “What was he trying to tell me?” the whole conversation was a waste of time. Practice being honest: truthfully share your thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Although stretching the truth or telling a little white lie may be convenient, keeping track of untruths can be most distracting and cause leaders to lose focus. Practice being direct: share your message with the person it is intended for as opposed to telling someone you hope will pass it along. What’s the point of telling everyone else what you really need to tell a particular individual? It’s inefficient, and you run the risk of your message being transmitted incorrectly. As a leader, it’s your job to be a role model for impeccable communication, and others will be influenced to do the same.
Seven leadership rules that help organizations rise to new peaks of performance are featured in my latest book, Energized Enterprise.