Nobody Tells Me Anything!

How did you learn to use makeup? Did you wake up one morning knowing how to make a quilt? What about playing a musical instrument? Did that come to you out of nowhere? Aside from the rigors of consistent practice, most of us learn new skills when someone shows us how to hold the guitar or violin, stitch fabric together, or apply eye shadow. In other words, someone models the skill for us.

There are many components involved in becoming a leader who communicates well. Let’s consider 4 of them, but remember that communication can be verbal or written, making clear communication just that much more difficult!

Pay attention to your attitude. Your attitude, positive or negative, will show as you speak or write. Our influence as leaders is often more widespread than we realize. As you carry out your responsibilities, craft your verbal and written communications carefully, making certain you are encouraging and enthusiastic. Working with others can be very rewarding, and everyone will be more willing and generous with his or her time when the atmosphere is a positive one.

Always be specific as you communicate. Using weak language such as “I feel” or “I really, really . . .” undermines what we hope to achieve as we lead groups, coordinate events, or speak in public. If you are verbalizing goals, then be exact when you provide details. If you are writing instructions to leadership team members, then be accurate and definite. A lot of communication goes awry when leaders fail to be precise!

Work to inspire those under your care. Do you participate when the leader has a “ho-hum” attitude? Of course not! We want to be inspired to move beyond what we normally do, excel at something, or make a difference. Inspiring others is a real part of being a successful leader. The words you use in working with others will remain in their memories longer than how your handouts looked or if your shoes matched your outfit.

Strive to listen to others. If a leader fails to listen, he or she will fail. It’s as simple as that! Knowing what interests the group members, touches their hearts, and moves them to action will help a leader assess how to organize and galvanize them into action. Leaders cannot “save time” by not listening. It’s a critical part of effective communication.

Modeling is a proven method to help develop capable leaders. If we, as leaders, model good leadership techniques, our organizations will grow. We must be willing to invest our time in demonstrating (modeling) the skills we have learned. There is no leadership skill more critical than effective communication. If a leader does not have abilities in this area, anything positive that comes from his or her leadership will be accidental! And if we model successfully, there’ll be no one making the comment, “Nobody tells me anything!”

Linda M. Clark lives in southern Indiana and enjoys leading seminars and writing. She is president of Indiana WMU. She is the author of 3 leadership books for women: Around the Table, 5 Leadership Essentials for Women, and Awaken the Leader in You.

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