If you look at the challenges that arise in business, the vast majority of them have their origin in poor communication. And so any book that explores the failures in leadership communication and how leaders might address their communication shortfalls is very worthy of consideration for your personal development. Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done is Dianna Booher’s latest exploration of communication in Strategic Leadership and it doesn’t disappoint.
In her new book, Dianna explores Strategic Communications in fine detail cross 36 chapters, using categories that explore:
- Public Speaking
Each category is discussed in varying levels of detail, which gives enough for you to consider and develop as well as offering guidance on where to find further information. Once clear next step is to visit the book’s home website and Dianna’s home site.
This is the largest section in the book, giving a solid foundation in the areas of what strategic leadership is. The key points emphasise the importance of 3 C’s – Clarity in vision, Character and Communication.
The one question
Activity, isn’t progress…Time spent is not value created.
And so it important to focus effort where it adds most value and creates most progress.
So the question Dianna wants you to ask is: What are you working on?
This should have an answer that reflects progress in business performance or delivery of the clients need. And both of these should eb aligned to the organisational strategy.
Knowing the deliverables is important so that effort is spent just on delivering those and accountability creates ownership and so increases the chance that it delivered. Individual reputation and reward is therefore engaged in the delivery process.
A culture of trust builds loyalty and openness where people are keen to be involved.
Part of that trust is created by open discussion s and clear and honest responses to a set of strategic questions. As a leader, focus on the ‘what and why’ questions, let your managers focus on the how and when.
Use the questions to align the thinking of your people and then they will start to understand and work with you on the strategic goal.
Strategic conversations are about connection with the individual and communicating the intent. And this section reflects that exact tenet. It is clear, concise and totally aligned to the intent for the book.
Discussing connection, honesty, personal communication style, the need for strength of vision and the importance of apologising when you are wrong. This chapter is one that whets the appetite for more research and is critical to success in any business. We drive success, one conversation at a time.
Getting your own way is merely transactional and won’t help build a long term relationships. Looking for and delivering on mutual opportunities is the way to connect strategically. A win-win outcome, as the focus of a negotiation will allow both to benefit and leave the engagement feeling as though they have achieved a positive outcome.
Having firm views on what you want from the negotiation, what value you hold and what value you want as well as the point at which you walk away, all empower you in a negotiation. Thinking through these points allows you to reduce the impact of any emotion during the negotiation and so you can focus on the outcomes you want.
Dianna’s chapter on negotiation practices explores some very helpful tactics and mindsets that will prepare you for any negotiation. Adages such as:
‘Strategic Negotiators list to a complete thought expressed.’ reminds you that it is the full sentence and idea that matters and not your initial or intuitive response to the first few words.
‘Strategic negotiators ask questions to clarify understanding before drawing conclusions.’ It is in really understanding you opponent’s position that you can find innovative win-win solutions.
It is rare that a leader won’t have to speak in public. People trust the leader’s word more when it comes from ‘the horses’ mouth’. It also allows the leader to show how emotionally engaged they are with the vision and strategy.
Impact is critical and so the elements of Image, Expression, Emotional Engagement and Clarity of message are those that you should take particular care with.
You should also be cautious of presenting too much detail and avoid talking at people rather than talking with the audience.
In this section, Dianna also presents a very helpful Skeleton Story Structure so that you can develop a speech that engages with the human interest in stories.
Combined with her Checklist for Dynamic Delivery, the leader has some very helpful tools for developing and delivering a great speech.
Business writing is critical to communication. Clarity and accuracy is therefore, not a luxury but a necessity.
In this section Dianna provides another helpful approach for crafting language, the TA-DA template. These focuses your business writing in 4 sequential stages.
- Top Line Summary
- Action (or recommendation)
This structure gives the ‘Bottom Line Up Front’ and if it is sensible and you trust the source, you probably don’t need to read much more.
If you do need more information, then details and then supporting attachments are available.
There is no substitute for face to face meetings. But you need to ensure that these meetings are focused and as short as possible.
Meeting efficiency can be increased by pre thinking the information required and the outcomes you are looking for. You can do this by adding specific points to consider or answer in your agendas. This can also turn the agenda printout into a record of the answers making minutes easier to write up.
Dianna also have some excellent comments on meeting etiquette and meeting efficiency. This is another helpful checklist for improving meeting productivity and efficiency and includes elements such as:
- Listing the required information for the decisions to be made
- Ensuring attendees arrive on time and do not leave too early
- Having the correct venue to support the discussion and have tools in place to support any exploration of the material.
With such a strong pedigree in communication and leadership, it isn’t surprising that Communicate like a Leader is another great offering from Dianna. With case-studies, examples and checklists to educate and guide you, this book is both informative and entertaining and a book that you’ll revisit again and again.
Dare to Aspire