Throw the book at poor leadership communication skills

Axiom Communications book How to be a Better Communicator

Now there’s an affordable, pocket-sized way to help equip your managers with the leadership communication skills they need to deliver success.

It’s widely held that leaders are – or at least should be – the most trusted and effective channel of communication, especially during times of change. Yet most employee opinion surveys I see single out poor leadership communication as a major frustration. So if you want your communications and your business to achieve their potential, it’s time to throw the book at the problem – literally.

By ‘leader’, I mean anyone responsible for bringing your organisation’s key messages to life for their teams and persuading them to commit to action that helps the organisation achieve its goals. Of course, that means senior leaders, but also line managers and supervisors. The immediate boss is often the person employees are thinking of when they vent their spleen in the employee opinion survey.

So how can you improve poor leadership communication and turn it into an asset that creates a competitive advantage for your organisation, especially when your line managers are so time-poor?

Great little reads

As an aspiring leader of the future back in the day, I found great inspiration from Ken Blanchard’s One-Minute Manager series of books. I’d dip into them whenever new challenges arose. More recently, I’ve noticed the power of little books like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? in avoiding the usual waffle and providing practical, valuable tips on potentially challenging topics like ‘delivering change’.

Against that background, a while back I was walking across the car park at a conference venue following a recce with my client. The conversation turned to the post-event giveaway:

Client: “Last time, we gave them a laptop bag. The year before that, a polo shirt. What do we give people this time?”

Me (thinking out loud): “What about a little book that’s actually of some use to managers in their work? Something that helps maximise the value of the event by bringing the messages back to their teams?”

Client: “Brilliant, I’ll buy it!”

Me: “Great… In that case, I’d better start writing it!”

How to be a better communicator

So was born the first edition of How to Be a Better Communicator, a little communication skills handbook packed full of tips, tricks and techniques to help busy leaders and managers communicate more effectively.

The book distills a one-day workshop of the same name, which we’ve run around the world for years. In truth, I still think that improving leadership communication skills is best done face-to-face in workshops or virtually through tools like WebEx. But of course it isn’t always possible or affordable to do that for everyone you’d want to develop – but a book is.

Like the books that inspired it, How to Be a Better Communicator is written in bite-sized chunks of plain English. It provides down-to-earth guidance that leaders and line managers can dip into on the job. It covers everything from developing a personal communication style to running great meetings, winning hearts and minds with high-impact presentations and writing to cut through the noise. We’ve just released the second edition.

Adding value 24/7/365

More recently, the book has moved far beyond being a conference giveaway. It’s been used to underpin a change programme, accompany a workshop, add impetus to a communication campaign, address leadership communication skills following a survey and signal a new emphasis on employee engagement under a newly appointed chief exec.

Often, we provide the books – whether printed copies or e-books – with a customised cover in full client branding and a foreword from the boss to give context.

So if you want to address poor leadership communication and don’t have the time or resource to put everyone through a workshop, then maybe it’s time to throw the book at the problem.

Equip your line managers with the skills that they require.