At the top of my list of critical leadership skills would be effective communication. Not from the pulpit or in a teaching situation per se (although that’s important also); but I’m thinking of communication in written form to a person or a group of people, as you seek to inform, get feedback, persuade or cast vision.
I have seen more trouble and unnecessary misunderstanding over the issue of communication than any other single issue I can think of.
I have experienced my share of:
- No communication
- Inaccurate communication
- Late communication
- Inadequate communication
- Insensitive communication
- Untimely communication
- Sloppy and unprofessional communication
- Boring communication
I’ve heard things like:
- Why didn’t we know about this?
- Why am I always the last one to find out about these things?
- Why do we always seem to get things out at the last minute?
- How could we possibly have forgotten to include ______ on this?
- We should have communicated this a month ago
- We forgot to mention______ now we have to redo it and resend it
I have seen lots of money invested in some print material that had incorrect information and had to be redone because it was not proofread by a detail-oriented person, or people were in too big a hurry to get it out and didn’t pay enough attention to the details.
With the proliferation of communication avenues (Facebook, Twitter, Slack, websites, emails, text messages, voicemail) and the amount of words flying back and forth, it’s so easy to loose important information that is buried in the amount of content being generated and the speed at which it’s going out, coupled with the expectation of quick responses. “I sent you an email 5 minutes ago, why haven’t you responded?”
Would it be a possible for a group or church to use a single mode of communication as much as possible so everyone knew where to find it, as opposed to looking in five or six different places? At our church we are trying to get all our ministry teams, leaders, staff and pastors to use Slack.
Here are a few practical ideas to help all of us do better at communicating:
1. Have someone in your group, church or organization assume responsibility for overseeing all communication, both internally and externally.
2. With any decision being made and communicated, carefully ascertain who needs to be on the receiving end and create (and keep updated) a distribution list so no one is overlooked or forgotten.
3. Before sending anything out, double check the details to make sure everything is correct: dates, time and specific details which are included. Is the date and time accurate? Did you say am when you meant pm?
4. Don’t say next Tuesday, but say Tuesday the 5th of December. Be as precise as you possibly can. Next Tuesday could mean this coming Tuesday or the following one depending on how you understand it.
5. If you are very relational but not quite as good with the details, have a detail-minded person look it over before it goes out. If you are very detailed but not as relational, have a relational person look it over before it goes out.
“Your ability to communicate effectively with people will contribute more to your success than any other skill that you can develop. I’ve studied success and achievement in America for more than 30 years. I’ve spoken to more than a million people, individually and in groups, and I’ve taken extensive courses on speaking and the art of persuasion. I’ve read countless books and articles on how to influence, negotiate with and persuade people.
“I’ve learned that fully 85% of what you accomplish in your career and in your personal life will be determined by how well you get your message across and by how capable you are in inspiring people to take action on your ideas.”~ Brian Tracy, author, speaker and seminar leader
I trust this is helpful