Many leaders tackle organizational problems behind closed doors, separating themselves from employees and perpetuating uncertainty. Instead, leaders should open those doors and communicate, motivate and inspire their employees.
“There’s this malaise in many organizations because people are confused. They don’t know what to do [because] they’re not getting direction from their leaders,” said Suzanne Bates, author of Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act! “[So] motivation is more important than ever, [and] leaders need to ramp up their communication and connect to people with the purpose and mission of the organization.”
Motivational leaders are not born, as many people assume, said Bates. They’re created, and that’s where training comes into play.
“[Leaders] are very good at analyzing business situation[s] and making decisions, but what they aren’t as good at is communicating with others,” she explained. “They just haven’t had that type of training, and a lot of organizations don’t know how to create that kind of training in their organizations.”
As a result, a number of organizations don’t coach or train leaders on high-level communication skills, and communication is only vaguely addressed in professional development plans, instead of being explicitly addressed.
“As you get ready to move into a senior-level [position], you need to be able to communicate vision, strategy and value. And you need to know how to communicate [that] in a way that motivates and inspires,” Bates said. “This is the piece of training and development that’s missing even in very sophisticated large corporations.”
While chief learning officers may be aware communication is a challenge for their leaders, the leaders themselves may not know it.
“The leaders may be making assumptions that they are connecting with their workforce, that they are motivating people. So how do you create that awareness?” Bates said. “You create it through assessment, coaching and feedback.
“At a certain level, there has to be a breakthrough in the leader’s ability to communicate, motivate and inspire, and that’s what allows them to rise to the top.”
A leader’s inability to do this ultimately affects the bottom line.
“The lost opportunities for a company are huge,” Bates said. “If [leaders] aren’t communicating effectively, you have worse client relationships [and] lost business opportunities. There’s a real financial cost to organizations [when] the second- and third-tier leaders aren’t good communicators.”
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