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What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate

You may not have heard this phrase, but it’s from the 1967 film, Cool Hand Luke, a Paul Newman feature that you shouldn’t miss.

The dialogue comes from a famous scene where the captain of the prison chain gang extols his charges with his own brand of leadership.

“Some men you just can’t reach,” the Captain says, as he reminds the prisoners of the beat down administered to a few other recalcitrant souls in an earlier scene.

“What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate!”

What is the Cornerstone of Leadership?

In an issue of the Harvard Business Review, the article, The Path to the C-Suite, (subscription or purchase required for the full article), confirmed yet again that the functional and technical skills that lead people to the C-Suite are NOT what is required for promotion or success

Rather, it is the softer skills leadership, communication and collaboration that differentiate the successful business leader

Leadership = Communication

Consider the notion that “LEADERSHIP = COMMUNICATION“, a perspective extolled by most business leaders but often overlooked until a major communication snafu occurs.

While no simple formula can capture all of the components of leadership, Communication is the bedrock of effective leadership.

I haven’t met a single leader who believes that he or she communicates so effectively and often that there is nothing more for them to do.

Usually, it’s quite the opposite.

Communication is an irreplaceable tool of top leaders, who constantly struggle to devote enough bandwidth to communicate with all of the constituents serving their organizations.

Use the Communication Matrix below

Use the Communication Matrix to create a plan that will help you decide HOW you will communicate and WHEN you’ll do it … about WHAT to WHOM.

Don’t hesitate to use modern tools like audio and video recordings. Your colleagues are looking for authenticity and honesty … not a polished movie-ready recording.

Don’t be afraid to pick up your phone to record your voice or create a video to get your message out there. Do it as often as you have something to share with your various constituencies.

Leadership = Communication

Try this even for one day.

Look at everything you deal with through the lens of LEADERSHIP = COMMUNICATION.

Are you taking the time to communicate effectively?

Are you certain everyone is clear about what you’ve communicated?

How can you do it better?

Start raising your Leadership Quotient now!

The Communication Matrix you see above will give you a head start to develop a Communication Action Plan relevant to your specific business. You should also consult The Value of Checklists, where I’ve written about the simple but invaluable process of using checklists to make sure you don’t overlook seemingly minor but critical steps in any process. It will be particularly helpful here.

If nothing else, the Communication Matrix will give you a road map to make sure you’re touching base with people across the organization from varied constituencies.

All the time … not just when you have to for a specific assignment … but when you should be sharing … learning … building your network … and being aware of what others are doing.

Don’t Stop Communicating

Communication is the cornerstone of successful leadership. If you’re like me, you’ve already learned the hard way that it’s one thing to be the generator of great ideas to move your company forward.

It’s quite another to communicate those ideas, lead people in the execution of the strategy and achieve the level of accountability in the organization to make sure everything gets done

Your ability, clearly and in simple terms, to articulate the vision, mission and goals of your organization, is absolutely essential to your success.

The Communication Matrix

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The Communication Matrix

Create Your Communication Plan

Create a Communication Action Plan by deciding the What, Who, When and How of a robust and relentless communication program

Make sure to get all of the action items on your calendar so they don’t get left out in the maelstrom of your day.

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