One of the most significant roles that a leader has is the role of communicator. I have found over the years that everything rises and falls on communication. I know, I just ripped of John Maxwell and his quote that everything rises and falls on leadership. He is right, but if the leader cannot communicate, it is just an interesting exercise in setting direction. One of the primary things that I have focused on in my own personal leadership, is building effective communication.
Over the past several years I had experienced a significant increase in the usage of voice mail and email. I had also discovered that people believed that they have communicated “with” me, even if they have simply left me a message, or sent an email. The reality that I may not get or understand that message was irrelevant. It was simply the fact that they communicated “to” me that mattered to them. By definition, this was not communication.
In recent months I have changed the way I handle my email and voice mail. I am limiting the frequently that I check email to 2 times a day(and not everyday), at 1:30 PM and 9:00 PM. I have an auto responder that lets people know my email schedule. The response also includes a phone number they can call if it is truly an emergency. Those calls are very rare, and at the same time, the number of emails I receive has dramatically decreased (many of them were forwards or cc’s) ! Based on that success, I am getting ready to do away with all but two of my four voice mailboxes (home, office1, office 2, and cell).
So what does this have to do with effective leadership and communication? I am forcing people to interact with me directly. This change alone has increased my effectiveness as a leader. Miscommunication is down significantly, and productivity is rising.
Pretty good combination for any leader, don’t you think?