These poor communication tactics will destroy your leadership potential February 19, 2023 by Belinda EganThe real motivation behind your communication with your team might be exactly what’s keeping you from communicating well. We want our leaders to be great communicators. We believe we’re chosen for leadership roles because we communicate well. We get our message across and we get things done. If that’s the case, why are so many of your team members suffering from a loss of morale, ongoing low-grade stress, and constant confusion and frustration? It’s because you’re communicating the wrong details, communicating for the wrong reasons, or both. And as long as you’re doing this, the results will always be bad. There are lots of “helpful” articles out there about effective communication, but not nearly as many target poor communication. So today, we’re getting into it. If you’re having a hard time really connecting and forming cohesive teams at work, you might be communicating the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. Make no mistake, poor communication among team members will inevitably bounce back on you, and it might turn out that you’re the source of the problem. Read on to find out if it’s your problem to fix. Poor communication tactic #1: Sharing a problem with someone else so they will fix it There’s a difference between seeking advice from trusted advisors or friends, and communicating a problem to your team because you just don’t want it to be your problem anymore. The latter happens because of laziness or lack of self-advocacy and belief in oneself. Whatever the case may be, neither of these looks good on you as a leader. When you’re engaging in this type of problematic communication, you’re “offloading” the emotional burden onto someone else. You might also intentionally skim over or leave out very important details that could sway the listener towards a solution you know should happen, but are trying to avoid. If you’re guilty of this, you need to stop. This is career-ending behavior, and it’s counteractive to your goal of being a courageous leader. Here’s your clue: if there are details you’re leaving out when you’re sharing the problem, you might be sharing for the wrong reason, with the wrong person. Be honest with yourself: is this a problem you know that you should be solving or already know the answer to? Search your intentions before you bring a new problem to someone else, whether a team member or a boss. Are you bringing it up to avoid looking at an uncomfortable truth that requires that you take action? If so, it’s time to step up and act like a leader. Deal with the toughest stuff on your own first, so that you can keep your team (or coworker, or boss) free to deal with their own stuff. Courageous leaders fight the hardest battles behind the scenes, sheltering their teams from the storm. Poor communication tactic #2: Seeking intel on something or someone that you should go directly to the source for School-aged kids do this, and spies do this. Leaders should never do this. If you need to know more about a specific situation, person, or problem, gather the people who are directly involved. If you need to know where your coworker, team member, or boss stands on an issue that involves you, go directly to the person who holds the information you need. Don’t involve people who are outside of the situation. Never bring up an issue surrounding one or two people in a team meeting. Ask lots of questions, but make sure you’re asking them to the people who are directly involved. Direct and honest communication is the only way to practice healthy communication. Anything besides that is passive-aggressive and will cause problems for you. Poor communication tactic #3: Over-explaining or dismissing your mistakes If you believe that leaders are not supposed to a) make mistakes, and b) admit to them, then it’s guaranteed that you’re engaging in this poor communication tactic. You are going to make mistakes. When you do, it’s a great opportunity to open up honest communication, growth, and cohesion in your team. If you spend any time trying to explain to your team that: It’s not your fault You didn’t anticipate this happening Someone else dropped the ball …then you’re engaging in this poor communication tactic, and you’re gonna be worse for it. Instead of rescuing your reputation or protecting yourself from the fallout, you’re doing the opposite. Instead of using this opportunity to show your humanity and bond with your team over a resolution, you’re trying to protect yourself and will end up feeling and looking worse. Your team sees someone who can’t own up to mistakes, and their respect for you dims. As a leader, you need to take responsibility for things that go wrong, unless you truly weren’t aware of them previously. And if you weren’t aware of them, you need to own up to not having been aware of them. You need to tell your team how you will step up and do better in the future. Your end goal for communication should always be clear and easily explainable to others Before you communicate with your team, make sure that your motivation for doing it is in line with your goal as a leader: leading your team to success while sticking by your principles and morals. Ask yourself these things: Will this be helpful? Will this be truthful? Will this bring the team together or push us apart? Will this grow the team or stunt our growth? And as for taking personal responsibility in your communication, ask yourself these things: Is this something I can and should handle on my own? Is this something that will confuse or frustrate team members unnecessarily? Is there a solution I’m avoiding by seeking more feedback? You will grow as a leader a great deal more when you stay honest and transparent with yourself and everyone around you. It’s my goal in 2023 to shake up the landscape of leadership for good. Join the revolution of Courageous Leaders by looking inward and reflecting on your Why: Download Unlocking the Power of Courageous Leadership for FREE!