My company’s mission statement is, “Building Better Leaders and Better Cultures Through Better Communication.” I’m proud to help leaders and companies accomplish these very things every day.
While a positive statement like this keeps my passion alive, it was negative statements that ignited it. Statements like the ones below originally fueled my passion to serve leaders and their companies:
“I really like what I do, but I don’t like who I work with. It’s just time to move on.”
“I feel like I have no voice there, and nothing ever changes.”
“He has great ideas, but he’s just not a very compelling communicator.”
“I have to go because even though my manager really is a great guy, he just doesn’t know how to lead, and it’s frustrating.”
“My boss’ ego is unreal. If it weren’t for the pay, I’d be out of there tomorrow.”
“She doesn’t listen to what people have to say.”
“We have no vision as a company. It’s just a bunch of disconnected projects, one after the other, but there’s nothing really fulfilling or big-picture about it.”
“She micromanages like crazy, and I feel like I’m constantly walking on eggshells. Half the time I’m not sure who’s supposed to do what, and then I get criticized for not being productive. It’s just not a healthy environment.”
I continue to hear statements like these all the time, and it breaks my heart. When friends, acquaintances and family members are considering leaving their jobs for reasons like these, I always think, “If only your company knew how easy it is to change these things. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
When I started my coaching company after a voice student and I used operatic voice principles to help him become a stronger communicator (which contributed to his team’s U.S. Supreme Court victory in the process), I realized the profound impact strong communication has on every aspect of a company. While I began my practice by helping leaders deliver better presentations and developing stronger public speaking skills, I began to see the multifaceted applications of communication skills beyond the boardroom:
When employees feel discouraged because they don’t feel listened to and their ideas aren’t taken into consideration, that’s a communication issue.
When a company has an unclear vision and fails to motivate its people, that’s a communication issue.
When a leader struggles to package a jargon-filled topic into clear language, and the employees carry on the same bulky message to their clients and customers, that’s a communication issue.
When a leader drives away his or her employees by speaking harshly and condescendingly, and he or she thinks it’s just being bold and decisive, that’s a communication issue.
When leaders don’t recognize contributions or find out what would make their people feel appreciated for their hard work, that’s a communication issue.
When leaders don’t empathize with their people and connect to them as human beings as well as professionals, that’s a communication issue.
When a project lags and productivity suffers because team members aren’t sure about who’s supposed to do what, that’s a communication issue.
When companies fail to deliver on promises that probably shouldn’t have been made, that’s a communication issue.
When companies hire and promote the wrong people because of favoritism or being unwilling to understand the skills and talents of better-deserving employees, that’s a communication issue.
In case I haven’t driven home the point, almost everything that happens to positively or negatively affect a company is related to communication.
This means that if I can help a leader change small things in his or her communication process, I can help save employees from leaving, create a better work environment, save thousands upon thousands (or millions) of dollars through better employee engagement and reduced miscommunication, and build an enviable, profitable and fulfilling culture.
When I decided I wanted to expand my coaching from public-speaking training to help transform entire company cultures through better communication, I knew I needed a process. I was fascinated by the idea that there must be a meaningful connection between excellent communication/interpersonal skills, influentialleadership, a thriving culture, and a company’s market success and profitability, and I believed that if I could find it, I could help companies in a great way.
I didn’t know where the connection was at first. But as I read and learned from seasoned leaders like Ann Rhoades and John Maxwell and hundreds of others, I realized that vision and values served as the common thread, the launchpad, for these four things (communication, leadership, culture and profitability) to come together in any company to produce massive effects.
Here’s how it works: as leaders (it always starts with the leaders) bring their convictions to bear upon their companies, they articulate a vision for how the company impacts the world and makes people’s lives better, then encapsulate that vision into two short messages: a mission statement and a values statement. Then, the leaders employ strong communication, the type of communication that speaks to the heart, paints a picture of how things should be, and inspires action, to influence their people (influence literally means in Latin, make two minds “flow together”) through speaking these messages and driving home the purpose, actions and results of adhering to them. Leaders learn to understand how their people think, and they find ways to seamlessly bring great ideas, dripping with purpose and action-ready, into the minds of their people. This is influence in its most essential form.
Once the leadership has done this hard work, the ongoing and steady work of culture maintenance begins. Once their people “buy in” and “get it,” their behaviors will inevitably begin to reflect the company vision that has been given them, if the leadership has done things right. Behaviors serve as the bridge between company vision and company culture: they are the actions and habits that flow from the company’s values and vision and shape the norms, assumptions, language, systems, goals, priorities, beliefs and practices that make the company what it is. Depending on the health of the company’s culture, the market responds more favorably or less favorably, as the culture carries a commanding influence on the company’s products and services. In addition, the company’s culture serves as a driving influence over retention, employee engagement, internal communications, and leader-employee relationships. Here’s the flow of culture-making in a nutshell: Leadership drives vision and values, vision and values drive behavior, behavior drives culture, and culture drives profitability. Strong communication is absolutely fundamental at every point in this progression.
Knowing that I can be a part of this transformation for any company at any stage is electrifying. Through simple principles, I can help companies change the things they feel are unchangeable. If leaders and their people are willing, we can work together to change almost anything about the DNA of their companies, whether expectations and priorities, vision and values, communicating more effectively in the boardroom or the break room, learning how to listen more effectively and have better internal communications with minimal loss, and building a place where employees want to be.
I’m passionate about helping individual leaders develop great ideas and bring them to life in a way that inspires action, and I’m passionate about giving leaders a vision and a voice for building new cultures. The fact that I can positively affect the company you might feel tempted to leave sometimes is reason enough to do what I do.
“Building Better Leaders and Better Cultures Through Better Communication.”