How to Be a Communication Leader

Episode 54

Last week, we discussed how effective communication is everyone’s personal responsibility in the workplace. That being said, it’s even more important for those taking the lead. It raises the question, how can you be a communication leader?

Host(s): Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social and Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts

Show Highlights

Nothing is more confusing than a leader who says one thing but wants another. Where’s the set direction? The last thing you want on your hands is a befuddled team, lost by your own instructions. So how do you become a leader that can be adaptable when it comes to communication?

Key Questions/Topics Covered

How can a leader adapt through communication?

First, you have to choose your leading style. What does that look like? Once you decide, stick with it. Consistency is key. A leader “playing” on their own terms is a confusing one. Communicate when the time to have fun is appropriate and what needs to be accomplished to achieve this. Make sure your team understands the direction. 

Secondly, do you have the ability to adapt? Do you know the audience within your team? If you’re the kind of leader focused on fancy diplomas and ranging vocabularies, then you might be missing your audience. This oversight is a significant barrier if you want to be an adaptive leader. So get to know your team members—all of them! What are their experiences?

Speaking of speaking – how can you be clear? Why be specific with individuals on your team?

Being transparent with your team comes down to the simplicity of expectations. Communicate what you expect to be done throughout your time frame to your team. To make it easier, you can even set daily or monthly goals for the team to keep them on track and meet certain deadlines. Stick with it, and don’t forget to implement those little breaks when certain goals are met. 

When instructions are being given out, ask yourself: Have I told my team what we need to do? Do they understand how to get there? Is there a set goal that my team can work towards? These simple steps can improve your clarity regarding the specifics of a project. 

Finally, be transparent with your team. If you want to have clear, effective communication, then your team needs to trust you. With the world we are in, your little lies will catch up with you. When they do, all of your work will fall apart. So build trust with your team and be transparent about the projects you are working on.

How to apply the open door policy

You see them all over your office, the placards preaching the open door policy where everyone’s opinions are valid. But how exactly do you create an environment where feedback is welcome? Well, we all love to say we don’t have enough time. For an open feedback environment, you need to make it! Ask yourself: Am I capable of being empathetic with them? Allow one-on-one time, dedicated to an individual team member’s employees. 

It’s hard for someone to go see their leader if they feel like they won’t be listened to. So you need to demonstrate implementing the given feedback. Listen to your team members and act on it. A leader can’t say yes to everything, and sometimes you have to say no. When this situation arises, explain why you’re saying no and still acknowledge the concern. That’s how to have a true open-door policy. 

In conclusion, by implementing these few key areas, you can help create an environment of open and clear communication with your team.

Class dismissed!

Jonathan (00:15): Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 54 of the Juvohub podcast. I am your host, Jonathan Saar. And with me today, again is Mark. Howl from Howl Creative Concepts, we're glad you are tuning in today for our episode, we appreciate those who are connected to us via our YouTube channel. So thank you for subscribing to that. If you aren't yet just search on on YouTube for Juvohub, or you can find this show also on your favorite podcast station, be sure to check us out there on Apple, Pandora, Spotify, and all the other major ones that are out there. So just search for Juvohub on your podcast player, and you can follow us there. If you wanna connect with us on social, we recommend going to Instagram and connect with us at Juvohub, J U V O H U B, where we put a lot of micro content that will be available for some clips from this show and other tips and best practices. So today, Mark and I are gonna talk about three essential communication skills for leaders. We're reading over an article from the Harvard Business School, amazing resource. If you're not subscribed to them, you need to be, they put out excellent content. So they put out a nice article on some of the tips and skills for leaders. And we've honed in on three, wanted to share with you not only some quotes from the article, but just some of our own thought. Well, so what are our objectives for today's episode Mark?

Mark (01:46): Yeah, so I love this and love this article. I definitely recommend going in and reading it, especially if you are a leader of people, but the first topic here is the ability to adapt. The second is speak in specifics, be clear, then third allow a place for feedback and to act on it. So I love these three.

Jonathan (02:10): Yeah. Yep. And all very, very relevant to today. So, you know, let's focus in on our first one. Why should, or how should a leader be adaptable when it comes to how they communicate? Like what, what's your take on that concept?

Mark (02:28): Well, you know, look, I have my own feelings and thoughts, but also when I read this article and I'm looking at something that says, you know, are you a leader? That's that can adapt. It means that what is, first of all, you have to decide what is your leadership style and stick to it. You know, one thing that does confuse me in our work environment, our world is when leaders they wanna play when they wanna play, but then they wanna work when they wanna work. It sends a wrong message and I've worked for people in the past that you never really know when it's time to play and there should always be time built into play. Right? But you have to decide as a leader, when are those times appropriate? Do your team members know when you are allowing at behavior?

Mark (03:19): Because what's terrible is the message that is sent is that yes, I'm playful. We can play whenever, but then when you catch them playing on their own, they get in trouble. And so when you think about your leadership style being direct or who you are communicating to is also something that you have to consider. Are you, do you have the ability to adapt, meaning, do you know who your audience is? Do you truly know who your audience is what I would ask a leader, meaning that, you know, generationally speaking, each of us are in different maybe pockets of generations and let's face it. We all receive communication a little differently and some topics a little differently, but also it can be what's the, what's the term location, you know, like where we're from, what was our upbringing? What have we been exposed to in the world?

Mark (04:17): And to me, that's key, if you are a leader of people, then you should have educated yourself on where some of your employees come from, you know, meaning where they've grown up and what they've experienced in life. The hardships, if you are a type of leader that only wants to talk to people that have gone to college and have business degrees and, you know, can use your words, your exciting, big words, then you might be missing as part of the audience. And to me, that's a piece of being able to adapt to different types of environments around you and the people that you're actually talking to.

Jonathan (05:01): Yeah, no spot on man. It really takes as leaders to actually know your team. It's really hard to be adaptable if you don't really know them. Yeah. You know, there's, there's always that office joke when the manager's walking through and he's like, "Hey bill, how's your day going today?" He's like, "my name's Jim". You know like, yeah. Yeah. So you gotta make sure you actually know who you're talking to. And if you're a disconnected leader, it's gonna be very, very difficult to adapt, but taking the time to get to know your team will definitely help with being able to adapt because yeah, everybody's got different personality. We're not gonna go down that deep discussion of Myers Briggs and introvert and extrovert and all that kind of stuff. That's a whole other topic. You don't have to be a master of all these personality types necessarily in order to adapt.

Jonathan (05:55): You just need to know, get to know, ask questions, learn a little bit about your team. And I like your point too, about like knowing your audience. So for our learning and development departments that are listening or watching this show right now, you know, the way you're gonna teach and train your maintenance professionals is gonna be different the way you teach train, maybe you're leasing professionals, or maybe the regionals, you know, so there's all these different types of personalities within that job category. And so you need to be able to adapt and speak their language and it's, and if you don't know, like we've said it many times on this show, eh Mark? Its like, okay, if you've never been on site, it's gonna be really difficult in that. Connection's gonna be there cause to be like, when have you ever been, when have you ever picked up a wrench?

Jonathan (06:50): When have you ever picked up a hammer? When have you ever picked up a guest card? You know, so being there and knowing what our employees are going through provides, you know, a better way for us to adapt. We're able to kind of speak to speak, so to speak, speak, to speak, so to speak. Yeah. So speaking of speaking, so to speak, how can we be clear? So that's, that's our next objective for today, as an effective communication strategy as a leader, why is it so important to be specific, be clear in what we're sharing with a team member or an individual on the team? What are your thoughts, Mark?

Mark (07:33): Well, look, you know, I've worked for many types of different leaders in the past and it's very confusing when you are a leader and you're not your message, it isn't clear. Like I said before, when you, I worked for someone that we could play when they wanted to play, but as soon as we were caught playing, without their knowledge of it, we got in trouble. That message was completely backwards. The work was still getting done, but then it became more of a, oh, they're jealous of our good time, our fun time. Right. And so anyway, long story there, but what I really want us to focus on is when you speak in specifics, you let people know who you are, what the expectation is, tell your teams what, what you expect. And if you have to break that down into a daily or weekly or monthly goal, it's really more about time management, this piece you know, setting these goals, setting the expectation and allowing these little moments or breaks for fun, but stick to it.

Mark (08:35): If you're gonna tell me that if I reach this goal that you specifically say like, I need 10 leases, or I need to accomplish X, Y, Z, and we do it, make sure that you are trustworthy, that you give us the reward. So speaking in specifics would mean, this is what I expect of you. This is what we're gonna do to get there. And then this is the reward for it. If you are not teaching your teams that you're trustworthy, I think all of this falls apart, but you know, the transparency is also something that I've always loved from leaders. I know when I have sat in corporate environments and listen to people, tell the teams like, well, don't tell onsite people this or that, or, you know, they don't need to know all the details about this, but when you don't share that information, whether it be a financial reason or maybe a human resources reason, then that's where the transparency gets skewed.

Mark (09:34): It gets more lost. The clarity gets lost. And they get a little confused about where and what they're supposed to try to accomplish. If that's part of the mission, that information is part of the mission. And I never liked it. I'll be honest, like the transparency to me threw me off. If I couldn't believe that you were being 100%, that transparent in a conversation with me and weren't sharing all of the details I didn't really appreciate that. The second part of that is maybe I need to know, maybe you educating me on the why we can't do this, or why we need to do that will help us get to this, which will help the investment or our investors receive this kind of payoff, whatever it means. Financially. Talk to me about teach me what those gains are.

Mark (10:24): That to me is being truly transparent. I remember working for an organization once and, you know, I was learning, I was new to leasing. I didn't really understand when someone said, don't ever tell the regional this, it was like X, Y, Z. And I looked at them and I was like, but why it's the truth? And this manager looked at me and said, we never tell the regional the truth about, you know, the numbers. And I was like, I was so shocked. And I thought, okay. So I guess I need for you to tell me, what should I lie about and what should I not lie about? I was so confused and I remembered thinking to myself, like a year or so later, I was talking about that particular manager. And I said, well, they cooked the books down there at XYZ property. And someone said to me, what does that mean? And I was like, well, they're just not honest about their numbers. They're not honest about anything that's truly happening. And, you know, look, I think today in the world that we're in we kind of need to be a little more transparent because those things, those little, what I call those little lies will catch up to us and your investors aren't stupid. You know, they know a lot more than we think they know. But anyway, that's my take on that.

Jonathan (11:38): Oh, no, no. It's, that's awesome. Yeah, because it's, yeah, it's gonna come around. What goes around, comes around. It's gonna happen eventually. And so, and we don't wanna set that example as leaders. Like, I can't even imagine what that must have felt like, you know, here you are new and here's somebody that is your leader telling you to lie to another leader. Like let's just, that's a bad, bad equation there for a good workplace environment, for sure. You know? So I'd like to spin it just a little bit from a different perspective. When I was reading over this article, there was one sentence that was in the, in this article from Harvard business school, the more clear you are, the less confusion there will be around priorities. So I took that as it's like, okay, here's our work week.

Jonathan (12:32): We've got 15 things that need to be done. Well, how does an employee know which one takes priority? If that's the only thing you dispense right, here's your 15 things. And it doesn't take into account other things that may happen situations come up, emergencies happen. That's not a whole lot of clarity. That's not being clear on what is the most important. So as opposed to just saying, here's your 15 things that need to be done this week, or this day, a good leader, a good communicator is gonna prioritize those 15 things. Well, these three things are the really the most important. And here's why, so if you can focus on those first and then after that, here's the next set of priorities. So that's another aspect for our audience to consider is like, what, how in the way that you communicate what needs to be done on any given day, make sure that your team members understand the priorities that are involved in that.

Jonathan (13:42): And in that way, there won't be any confusion. And because if you don't say it, then inevitably, it's gonna catch up on you as a leader, because those things will happen during the day what's in your mind was most important. Doesn't get touched. It's the end of the day. And you're like, hey, what's going on? And then they're like, well, I got, I got these other five things done. I didn't know about why this was so important. So yeah, really, really important. As you mentioned, Mark, you know, what you said is an example and being transparent, honest, and clear, and also how you treat your team. So that leads us to our third essential communication skill and that's a place for feedback. So how does a leader go about doing that, creating that environment, where we welcome feedback and that our employees will know that we're gonna, we're gonna react to it. We're gonna act, we're gonna do something about it.

Mark (14:44): You know, it's interesting. I like this last piece here about sort of keeping that open line of communication and asking for feedback. I'm working with a friend of mine on a leadership program and a piece of it talks about encouraging these leaders in this group that we're working with about doing more one-on-ones with their teams. If you're not setting that, that time truly focus one on one, like, Hey Jonathan, let's you and I, every Monday, we're gonna get on a call at eight 30 in the morning and talk for 15 minutes or 30 minutes, whatever it is. But allowing that one-on-one time showing your employee that you truly care about them, that you are dedicating this time to them and their needs. It's not about what you need from them. It's about you asking them.

Mark (15:34): Tell me more, tell me what's happening. Tell me what's going on. Tell me the good. Tell me the bad. How was your week? You know, let's talk about any of the issues that are surrounding the positives and the negatives. When you truly invest in the people that report to you and your organization, you will find the time to say, and look, I get it. We all love to say, oh, I don't have time. I don't have enough time. But if you're not making the time to spend this one-on-one time with your employees and I don't care, what type of leader you are, you could be an EVP, a president, a CEO, or a regional manager, whatever you have. If you have people that report to you, then each and every one of those individual people deserve one-on-one time with you.

Mark (16:21): And like I said, if it's 15 minutes, but it's about you saying, this is our space for you to tell me how I can help, what is going on in your world? And what we're finding in this focus group is it is amazing about how the line of communication has been open opening. We'll say, based on this, this sort of rollout that we've done with them, because it had not been done before. Okay. And meaning that the one-on-one weren't happening before maybe they sort of got away from them because they got too busy, but now more feelings are being talked about. There's more vulnerability. And it brings me to a point in the article, you know, just about empathy. So if are you truly an empathetic person, if you're asking for a one-on-one time with your employee ease and they do need to bring up something that's personal, or that's on more of a negative side, are you capable of being empathetic to how that affects them personally or professionally?

Mark (17:25): I find that to be kind of interesting because some leaders that I've worked for were not empathetic and really did not about the things that were pressing on my nerves, what I call, you know, like, well, this is what's causing me the pain right now. And it could be X, Y, Z, or an employee. There was like no care or concern about addressing it. So sometimes I think we really have to ask ourselves, are we truly capable of being empathetic? And what is your level of empathy that you possess, right?

Jonathan (17:59): Yeah. No, that's excellent. Yeah. It's hardfor someone to go to a leader if they don't feel like they're gonna be listened to, and that's a safe place to be able to give, you know, share your thoughts, you know, what's bothering you, what you feel is not working and so on. So yeah, that's it, that has to be there. And, you know I think of it from this perspective, Mark, it's like not only does an employee need to be able to provide and give feedback to their leaders, but they also need to know, I think this article touched on that too. Like, what's going to be done about it. You can imagine, it's like, okay, if you're one sided about this, all right. You know what we wanna hear? What's not working. Tell us, okay, you listen, you listen, everybody puts their hand up.

Jonathan (18:53): They feel good. You're like, all right, that was great. Meeting adjourned. We'll see you next week. You know, that's, that is a poor attempt to really keep, like you mentioned, like opening those doors and keeping it moving forward. Because if you don't have time for your employees to demonstrate how you're going to implement it, acknowledge it and say, even if the answer is no, sometimes it's gonna be, no, you can't as a leader say yes to everything. There are gonna be times you have to say no, but you have to be able to say why you, you are saying no. And at the same time, there's always room for, for being able to implement certain things. Just, again, it depends on the topic. We're speaking in very general terms on this show for today, but the idea is listening and looking for ways that you can be able to take that feedback and actually act on it, as opposed to, you know, this random jar of you know what, what do you want us to do? Put your - fold it in a piece of paper and put it in some fishbowl and we'll get to it when we can.

Mark (20:02): Yeah. You know, I think it's so funny, Jonathan. I don't know if you've, you know, worked in organizations where we love to say in business, we have an open door policy or we embrace candor. And it's, it's all these beautiful things that we love to put on plaques around an office and hang on doors. But when you truly walk into a leader's door, you know the head of the organization and you feel unheard, or they're not actively listening, or they don't have the ability to adapt to you and your circumstances, then it sort of, it gets thrown out. The baby gets thrown out with the bath water in my opinion, because it's like, yeah, you can hang this sign on your door that says, oh, we have an open door policy. But if you're truly not listening to your employees, you don't care. You don't possess the empathy to really say, tell me more, explain to me what what's making you feel this way. There's that there's not that care there. Then honestly, all it is is just a plaque on your door that says open door policy.

Jonathan (21:02): Right, right. Gotta have action. So good takeaways from today. So our three objectives for today, we were just talking about only just three essential communication strategy skills for leaders. There's obviously plenty out there, but we're just focused on three, being able to adapt, be transparent, be clear and allow a place for feedback and make sure that you do anything you can to implement it. And if you can't be able to explain the reasons why. So great topic today, Mark. I love it. I love it. I love it. So Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts, how can people connect with you?

Mark (21:40): Yes, absolutely. So How Creative Concepts.com, Howl is spelled H O W L Creative Concepts dot com.That's me.

Jonathan (21:48): All right. My name is Jonathan Saar. This has been episode 54 of the Juvohub podcast also available on YouTube. So please give us a thumbs up on YouTube, if you're watching this show, we appreciate your reviews. If you're listening to it on a podcast, thank you for sharing it with your network. Please tell other people about this complimentary education, Mark and I sharing our thoughts and best practices on really, really important topics for our industry. And we would love your feedback. So please share with us any topics you would like to be discussed. And if you'd like to be on the show, you know, let us know. We'd love to have you as a guest. So until next time class dismissed. Thanks everyone.

Mark (22:32): Bye bye.

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out :

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.