by Jennifer Tobkin


by Jennifer Tobkin


leader communication

Helping your organization achieve success begins with you.  Your long-term goals may depend on financial resources that your company does not yet have, but in the short term, you should focus on articulating your goals clearly.  Effective communication is an essential skill in a managerial role, but it is an area where many managers have room for improvement.  Therefore, you should focus on improving your leader communication in order to improve your team’s performance.

Leader Communication Is Essential to Your Management Style

The four quadrants of management are high responsibility high control, high responsibility low control, low responsibility high control, and low responsibility low control.  The best managers adopt the high responsibility high control approach.  With this approach, you have a vision for what your whole team should accomplish, but you do not micromanage the employees you supervise.

Leader communication is essential to the successful implementation of the high responsibility high control approach to management.  You should tell your employees what they need to know to play their role in accomplishing the task, but you should leave them some flexibility in determining how to accomplish it.  A well-written email can be more effective than a long meeting in this regard.

How to Communicate Better Without Being Bossy

Effective leader communication involves prioritizing quality over quantity.  It also involves being a good listener.  The most effective leaders do not dominate conversations.  They also do not take credit for others’ work.

These are some other ways that managers can communicate more effectively with their teams:

  • List the detailed instructions for the project in an email or shared document. This way, the employees can reread it and refer to it whenever they need to.
  • When possible, schedule meetings with individual employees or small groups instead of the entire team, so as not to interrupt the entire team’s work. Small group conversations mean that each employee gets your full attention.
  • Phrase criticism of employees’ work in a constructive way. Avoid criticizing employees in ways that would personally offend them, and do not criticize them in front of their colleagues.
  • Celebrate the team’s success as a group, and give all employees credit for their contributions to the project.

Think Before You Communicate

The best managers see themselves as first among equals. They have a friendly rapport with the employees they manage. When a visitor observes your team in action, it might not even be obvious to the visitor which member of the team is the manager. This democratic approach to projects is only the last step in a long process. It is your job as a manager to strategize and plan ahead.

The employees on your team are not your brainstorming buddies. You should solicit their opinions before making major decisions and always be available to listen to their feedback. You should not, however, respond to their concerns or suggestions in a reactive way. Management is not a popularity contest, and if you rearrange an entire project every time an employee makes a suggestion, it will just make the entire team look disorganized.

Effective leader communication is the end result of a long process of planning. Before you can plan effectively, you must set your priorities in order.

The Priority Matrix Can Guide Your Leadership Communication

As a manager, you are in control of your organization or department’s overall strategy. You know what its long-term goals are, and you should communicate these goals to your employees verbally and in writing. Even if everyone is on the same page about the goals you are pursuing, your role as a manager is to delegate tasks so that the group can make progress toward these goals.

The priority matrix is a useful way of organizing your team’s tasks. It requires you to evaluate the relative importance and urgency of the tasks you face. Before you give instructions to any of your team members, you should evaluate all the tasks associated with your project according to the priority matrix.

These are the four quadrants of the priority matrix and how you should address them:

• Do – These tasks have high importance and high urgency. In other words, they make a big impact on the overall progress and outcome of the project. They also have relatively short deadlines. You as a manager should immediately make a to-do list regarding these tasks. Decide which elements of them you can most efficiently accomplish alone and which ones require help from your team. Meetings are not usually the most time-efficient way to get work done, but if there is a task you can “do” in a meeting or Zoom call, then it is worthwhile. For example, revising a draft of a proposal in time for a meeting with a client is a high priority. It is worth investing two hours to have four team members on a Zoom call editing the proposal on a Google Doc.

• Decide or Delay – These tasks are important to the overall outcome of the project, but they do not have deadlines in the near future. They are high-importance, low-urgency tasks. You should record the deadlines for these tasks and inform your team of them. An example would be finding a venue and choosing a list of invitees for next year’s convention. If any members of your team are available to work on these tasks, you can ask them to start on them whenever they finish their current tasks which have higher urgency.

• Delegate – You should delegate tasks that have deadlines but are not the most important with regard to your current project. For example, making a spreadsheet of all of your company’s tax-deductible expenses has a deadline; if you don’t do it on time, you will have a higher tax obligation. Meanwhile, the aforementioned proposal and client meeting require your attention more than last year’s taxes. Therefore, you should delegate these tasks to members of your team or even outsource them to freelancers.

• Delete – These tasks are neither urgent nor important. By eliminating them from your to-do list, you can focus more on having your employees spend their time on tasks that further your organization’s goals.

Once you have thought clearly about what you need to do for your current project, what else needs doing, and what is extraneous, you can start giving instructions to your team. When a team is disorganized and inefficient, it is often due to a manager’s lack of clarity about priorities.

Introverts Can Be Good at Management Communication, Too

Some people thrive on interpersonal communication more than others. If you are not a people person, you can still be an effective manager, and you can still learn the art and science of leader communication. Leading your team to success is not about how much you say or even how eloquently you say it.

To communicate effectively, you should listen to all perspectives and decide on the overall message you want to convey about the project. In other words, think beyond the present conversation and the present moment. The more details your plans are before you start communicating them, the better. The priority matrix can help you be more concise and organized in your communications. You do not have to be witty to be a good listener or to deal with your coworkers in a courteous and professional manner. Leader communication is about the message, not it’s brand messaging.

The worst managers, in terms of communication, are the ones who ramble and demand employees’ time when they do it. An extreme version of this is when managers call a meeting and no one, least of all the manager, is sure what it is about until it is finished. The fewer your meetings, and the shorter they are, the better. Group brainstorming sessions in real time are rarely productive, except with small groups of people who are used to brainstorming together.

Meanwhile, some people like to run their ideas past a brainstorming buddy. If this is you, schedule a conversation, no more than 30 minutes, with the brainstorm buddy, and write down lots of notes in advance. This way, your brainstorming buddy is helping you organize your thoughts, rather than generating them. Hardly anyone can come up with brilliant ideas on the spot on command.

Communication Skills Training Can Help Leaders Communicate More Effectively

Effective communication takes practice, even if you have taken college courses in management and public speaking.  It helps to work individually with conflict resolution experts who have experience communicating in emotionally fraught situations where large amounts of money and the reputations of individuals and businesses are at stake.

Communication skills training can help make you a more effective leader of a more successful team.  When you communicate more effectively, you can improve the morale in your workplace and enable your colleagues to collaborate more fruitfully.  A few sessions of leader communication training can be the beginning of years of success and prosperity in your organization.  To improve your leadership communication skills and to communicate more effectively with your team, sign up for a training course with PeaceComm.