Brian Cavanagh CONSULTING

Leadership lessons in praise of clear communication in times of crisis

In this uncertain time, we all crave certainty. And when you lead an organisation, you can often feel obliged to provide that certainty. Both as a protection to staff but also to reassure them that someone is in control, and there is a plan.

So how should leaders, connect and communicate with staff during these times? Speaking to a former colleague last week, he recounted a recent memo from the CEO. It felt like he was being talked to in block capital letters, with the frequent use of the word ‘challenging’ and the final paragraph full of cliches such as’ all shoulders to the wheel etc’. The intent was well meaning, but misguided.

He felt talked down to and was not reassured. He wanted a real dialogue about the difficulties of the situation, rather than empty bluster.

So, my takeaway from that conversation is that if you are tempted to communication through capital letters and hyperbole, resist.

Staff recognise these are strange times, so dialling down and speaking in a more nuanced manner is a more effective way of connecting and providing leadership.

Ask staff an how they want to be communicated with, and what they want to know. You can be both direct and clear without resorting to hyperbole. And your leadership will be the better for it.

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