On the 2nd of January 2024, we started a conversation on 10 Strategies Leaders Can Implement To Drive A Culture of Peak Performance in 2024. So far, we have discussed six strategies – (A) Cultivating Inclusive and Diverse Work Cultures (B) Driving Leaders’ Growth Through Emotional Intelligence (C) Leadership Development Through Continuous Learning (D) The Evolution of Performance and Impact Measurement (E) Embrace Adaptable and Resilient Leadership and (F) Emphasizing Sustainable and Ethical Leadership Practices. Today we will discuss two additional strategies.
G. Developing Communication Mastery Among Leaders
In October 2020, I tweeted about communication: “[It] is the language of leadership. Leaders use communication as a tool to give inspiration, comfort, direction, persuasion and correction. To make our communication productive, we must pay attention to our audience, timing, tone, prevailing conditions, content and context.” Productive communication is integral to leadership, and mastering it is a non-negotiable skill.
Workplace communication statistics show that 86% of employees and executives cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the main causes of workplace failures. On the other hand, teams who communicate effectively may increase their productivity by as much as 25%.
Project.co’s Communication Statistics 2023 report highlighted that the costs of poor business communication include – wasted time (according to 68% of survey respondents), missed messages (53%), burnout, stress, and fatigue (42%), lost files (35%),bad customer experience (30%), loss customers to competitors (12%), and loss employees (10%).
To enhance productive communication skills, it is important for leaders to strengthen their storytelling abilities. When you enhance your storytelling skills, you can convey your vision in a compelling and inspirational way. Creating a powerful narrative has the potential to unite your team and propel them forward toward shared goals. Make your story simple. Structure the story so that your audience can follow you on the journey as you create a picture of a better state. Employ authentic emotions in the conversation. It is important to consider your audience’s point of view. To enhance your storytelling ability, consider taking a productive communication class.
Whether it is on podcast, social media or other media platforms to acquire and retain customers, or at review meetings, retreats and other internal meetings with your leadership team, storytelling retains attention and inspires action.
Available data on brand storytelling shows us how buying decisions are influenced by the way customers perceive a brand’s story. For example, it was discovered that customers are 55% more included to consider purchasing from a business if they like the brand’s story. Also, 45% of people would like a company’s Facebook page if they liked the business’ story. In addition, only 5% of people remember statistics, but 63% remember stories. Perhaps the most interesting of this is that, when data is combined with a story, information retention increases from 5% to between 10% to 67%. Whether it is data-driven storytelling, stories you create to inspire your team or stories you source directly from your customers, great storytelling inspires action.
In addition to mastering the art of storytelling, leaders must be intentional about ensuring clarity and transparency in as they interact with their teams. You want to communicate with unequivocal clarity and maintain transparency in all interactions with your team. This openness fosters trust and ensures everyone is informed and aligned. One of my favourite quotes on communication was given by George Bernard Shaw who said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
Often, leaders communicate with much ambiguity. Ambiguity shows in using vague or sarcastic language, erroneous phrasing, and misaligned context. Ambiguity leads to multiple interpretation leaving your audience to make their meaning out of what you have communicated. You don’t want to leave people with assumptions and filling the gaps with their prior knowledge or personal biases as you don’t want to deal with increasing confusion, conflicts, and other unintended consequences on your team, with clients, investors or regulators. You want to use the power of communication to build cohesion and a positive interaction climate in your organization.
In his Harvard Business Review article, The Neuroscience of Trust – Management Behaviors that Foster Employee Engagement, Paul J. Zak, revealed that compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.
Another important thought to consider to truly master productive communication, is the appreciation of diversity in your team by ensuring you adjust your communication styles to cross generational divides. Your message must resonate with everyone regardless of their age, background.
H. Personalized Leadership Coaching and Mentoring
At the maiden edition of Dr. Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp held in Nairobi, Kenya, my mentor – Prof. Dana H. Born Faculty Chair, Faculty Advisor, and Lecturer at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government said, “one thing we must understand about elevating and inspiring leaders is to recognize that a leader is not just someone in a position of authority. Leadership is about owning a situation, taking some action, and adding your distinctive value. The best thing we can do is debunk the thought that you need to have a budget or a title or office to be a leader. We have the opportunity every day to create a positive influence”.
In my experience, this thought is the foundation for driving peak performance at all levels of the organization. When everyone in your organization is equipped with the skills, knowledge, and attitude to create a positive influence with internal and external customers, you will have a high performing team where everyone takes personal responsibility for delivering peak performance.
It is therefore imperative for you to address varied learning needs and advocate for personalized leadership coaching and mentoring approaches. Conducting a Training Need Analysis (TNA) is essential to both your personal growth as a leader and the growth of your team. The personalized growth approaches must offer numerous benefits, including improved self-awareness, enhanced communication, and better decision-making. Whether you choose coaching, mentoring, or a combination of both, investing in your leadership development is an investment in your future success.
Experts have argued that for leadership training to suit the needs of today’s digital age, it should mold leaders as part of a team, leverage data analytics, add purpose to leadership, shape leaders into mentors or coaches, and adopt learning management systems (Deloitte, 2019; Gallup, 2019; Chief Learning Officer, 2018; Towards Maturity, 2018).
A survey of almost 18,000 human resource professionals and business leaders from around the world found that 83% believe it is critical to develop leaders at all levels. Despite this, less than 5% of businesses have integrated leadership development at all levels. According to the Global Leadership Forecast 2021, “fewer than half of leaders feel they are effective in leadership skills that will be most critical for future success. Even worse, they aren’t getting development in the skills they need most urgently.” This is an urgent situation that needs to change.
The Co-Active Training Institute argued that leadership development programs for organizations are particularly valuable for people moving from leading only themselves to a position of leadership in which they must now lead a group of individuals. Leaders who enhance their leadership skills in the workplace will be able to handle, inspire, and influence their teams more effectively and constructively.
We must therefore craft personal development plans and individualized coaching tailored to the unique needs and aspirations of each leader in such a way that learning interventions are designed to maximize personal strengths and help improve on weak areas. Targeted coaching leads to transformational results. We should focus our coaching interventions where they are most needed, engaging service providers that have demonstrated capacity to bring about effective changes in leadership behavior and mindset. As a coaching client once mentioned, “I would recommend coaching to other leaders because the value of having time and open, frank conversations with someone who doesn’t work for you or whom you don’t work for is invaluable.”
Also, we must seek to create mentoring opportunities across generations and geographies. Neither distance nor age should hamper our commitment to development. We should tap into the collective wisdom of our entire network. If the budget can accommodate it, we can encourage our team to on secondment to other regions where we operate to foster cross cultural learning and exchange. We can also hold in-person trainings that will bring diverse functional groups together. In the 11 years of enabling leaders for peak performance, I have found that many organizations thrive on not just the energy of the younger workforce but also on their creativity and wisdom. It is therefore important for you as a leader not to assume you know it all.
Next Tuesday, we will conclude the discussion by sharing the final two strategies any leader who want to build a peak performance culture must apply. You may want to consider enrolling yourself and your leadership team for the Made4More Accelerator Program Accelerator Program – A marketplace performance accelerator program designed for leaders and potential leaders who want to position themselves on a fast-growth path in their industry. The program is for a peculiar set of industry leaders, culture shapers, and game changers who are committed to achieving peak performance in their space. You will be nurtured to use your competence, character, creativity, compassion, and courage to make a remarkable positive difference in your industry. Visit https://abiolachamp.com/m4m-accelerator/ to register.
About Dr. Abiola Salami
Dr. Abiola Salami is the Convener of Dr Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp and The Peak PerformerTM. He is the Principal Performance Strategist at CHAMP – a full scale professional services firm trusted by high performing business leaders for providing Executive Coaching, Workforce Development & Advisory Services to improve performance. You can reach him on firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him @abiolachamp on all social media platforms.