Monday, August 2, 2010


Out of all the word choices, this I hope is the most obvious, and yet I find that it is often the least followed. Communication is an absolute necessity in leadership. How will your team know what the plan is without some form of communication? This should be constant throughout your leadership cycles, in every stage.

Once a plan/goal is conceived, it needs to be communicated. Initially with trusted staff and advisers, to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. After that it needs to be communicated to the team so that everyone is pulling in the same direction. Once it is communicated down, the results need to be communicated back up the chain in order to make sure that the plan is being properly implemented and that the results are what is expected. If the results are not what is expected, then you need to conceive a modification (or in some cases an entirely new plan) and communicate it back down. Then the cycle continues. And finally (and perhaps the most forgotten step) a leader should communicate to his/her team when they did a good job.

Of course, communication gets more difficult the more people involved. The Project Management Institute has a formula for determining how many channels of communication exist in a given project. It can be found online or in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK, now in its’ 4th edition). The formula is N(N-1)/2. N represents the number of stakeholders involved in the project. identifies a stakeholder as “A person, group or organization that has direct or indirect stake in an organization because it can affect or be affected by the organization’s actions, objectives and policies.”

Why am I bringing this up? Because as a leader you need to worry not only about your team (who are stakeholders), but also about anybody/anything else that might be impacted by your decisions. You need a communication plan, and that starts with the above formula. Once you figure out how many channels of communication you have, then you can start planning to deal with them. Until then, all you are dealing with is guesswork (a topic for a future blog?).

So Communication is vital throughout the cycle for a leader and his team. I don’t think there is another “leadership expert” (if I can claim to be one), that would argue against this. It rightly deserves a spot as one of the C4’s, and arguably may have the greatest impact. Next week we will talk about Command, and to use the quote from Jack Welch why it is important to: “Passionately own the vision…”

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