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Are You an Effective Communicator? (#75)

The Confident Leader

I walked into the game room to find three college freshman home on break playing Rocket League – an Xbox soccer game where cars are the players. “How are you guys doing?” I asked.

“Well, we started out awful. Lost two games in a row.”

“So, your college educations aren’t helping you out?” I chided.

“No,” one of them said catching on to my ribbing, “but we’re doing better now.  Once we got our communication down, we’ve won the last five games in a row. And we are in the toughest league.”

The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place.
— George Bernard Shaw (Irish Playwright)

This Week’s Edition

What role does communication play in the leadership game? 

Clarify Your Thinking

The well-skilled Rocket League trio was performing better, and they attributed it to their communication. “Once we got our communication down, we’ve won the last five games in a row.”

At this point my curiosity kicked in. I listened in on this game-changing communication.

“I’m staying back on defense. You play up. Go advance. Take the ball forward.”

  • Clarity of role and responsibility.

  • Coverage for all aspects of the game – offense and defense.

“I just got blown up. You need to fill in at goal.”

  • Recognition of a gap.

  • Passing the baton to the better equipped team member.

“I screwed up. Sorry. My bad.”

  • Freedom to try something and make mistakes.

  • Ownership for what did not go well.

Education, experience, and expertise are crucial to success. But if the team doesn’t have good communication, it’s hard to win.

When leaders fail to accomplish their intended goal, it’s frustrating especially if they believe they have all the elements for success – the right people who are trained well, a clear vision, effective strategies, tried and true methods of execution, etc… 

That frustration can lead leaders to start questioning: 

Old Thinking: “If we have all the elements of success and can’t post a win, maybe I have hit my leadership limit.” 

New Thinking: “What else could be true? I want to know whether or not our communication is as effective as it needs to be. Let me find out.”

Thoughts Lead to Actions

How does a leader improve their communication and that of the team? If our Rocket League Team is on to something, here are some areas you might consider. As you take stock of your communication in these areas you might find some opportunities for leadership development:

  1. Clarity: defined roles and responsibilities

  2. Evaluation: identifying and communicating gaps

  3. Humility: knowing other’s strengths and your weaknesses

  4. Flexibility: ability to adapt to fluid situations

  5. Freedom: trying something new and risking failure

  6. Ownership: doing your part and making room for others to do theirs

Step 1: Look at each of the six areas and rate yourself (scale of 1 to 5) on your own communication.

Step 2: Rate your team on their communication in each area.

Step 3: Identify one thing that you (or the team) can focus on to improve communication.

The best relationships (in work and life) are built on trust. Trust begets trust. Leaders who trust first often are rewarded with trust in return. Auto-magically communication improves.


Boost Your Performance

Sometimes we just don’t speak the same language. This makes effectively communicating a challenge. When in doubt don’t make the other person wrong…double your efforts to listen and find a way to communicate so nothing gets lost in translation. This week’s video showcases such a situation.

What’s Your Opinion?

What is your primary communication strength? Share it with me at:

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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