Saturday 15th December 06:45

Communications: Communication Behaviours of True Leaders

communication_175Jim Morgan is a certified Project Manager who has years of training self-managing work teams. His roles as trainer, project manager, and technical writer have taken him to organisations such as Microsoft, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Washington State University. He now runs the TeamTrainers consultancy and its website, In his article, "Communication Behaviours of True Leaders", Jim questions how committed leaders are to following through on their communication promises. He suggests that if you really are committed, you will be performing the following 5 actions as a matter of routine.

Communication Commitment 01: Reply to every direct contact within the company within 4 working hours

According to communication theory, communication doesn't occur until the loop from your communication sender to you the receiver has been closed. This means that whenever you receive a direct message from someone, no communication has taken place until you acknowledge it, show that you understand it, and, if necessary have acted on it. Not to reply to a voicemail or email without reason is uncompleted communications. Even a "Got it" reply shows your desire to close the loop. Better still, commit yourself to responding within 4 hours of receiving it.

Communication Commitment 02: Don't pretend that bad behaviour didn't happen

If you are a team leader and one of your team players does something that is off-standard, they are communicating something to you that says, "I am in this team but I am not willing to follow the rules and standards of this team". Many managers shirk from getting involved in team-breaking behaviour like this in the hope that it will go away. But others notice. And they notice that, if you do nothing, you aren't bothered either. If you are a leader and you are committed to closing the communication loop, you need to deal with any sign of bad behaviour as soon as it happens.

Communication Commitment 03: Never deliver bad news in writing

Amongst the worst things a manager can do is to give bad news such as a warning or, worse, dismissal, by email or letter. Apart from signalling that you, as a manager, are a coward and ashamed to look the person in the eye, this is totally disrespectful to the employee who may well be experiencing extreme feelings of shock, anger, and anxiety at the news. A significant part of any communication is reading people's body language. Only by being present when you give bad news will you be able to know exactly how the person feels.

Communication Commitment 04: Criticize rarely and only in private

Don't criticize people for something they've done or not done except in the rarest of circumstances and never in front of their colleagues. Criticising people turns the relationship you have with your staff into an adult-child or schoolmaster-pupil one. Many staff who are criticized publicly will feel humiliated and plot to take revenge on you at some later date. Instead, make better performance your aim and instead of finding fault, find a solution.

Communication Commitment 05: Praise often, privately and publicly

For many of your staff, giving praise for a job well done is the greatest motivational act you can perform. For days, people you praise will remember what you said and they'll feel like they're walking on air. Appreciating people makes them feel successful and you'll get more of the behaviour you like. If you want to really reward people for a job well done, you'll add public praise to private praise. The only thing you have to make sure of, is that your praise is fair, is known to be fair by others, and is spread equally amongst everyone.

You'll find Jim Morgan's full article on communication commitments and behaviours at the link below. In summarising, Jim suggests the following Action Plan: "Copy these behaviors into a document and print it out. Keep a tally of every time you model each behaviour for a month. Then set a goal to increase the counts over the following month, and track them to see how you do."