Management workshop

All managers have a responsibility to communicate clearly with staff, says Elaine Willis

Elaine Willis
Elaine Willis

President Barack Obama used his inauguration speech to set a tone. He recognised and understood the realities of contemporary America, he said. He explained how he intended to motivate people and that he would set aside approaches that his principles could not support. He pointed out new ways forward that would not be easy but, he promised, would rebuild communities and rebuild the US.

Not all leaders find themselves in such a critical position at such a critical time. But all managers have a responsibility to communicate clearly with their colleagues and, like President Obama, to set an appropriate tone.

Communication styles tend to reflect people's personality types. However, as with management styles, the more you can learn to use a variety of communication approaches - and not just your preferred ones - the better you will be able to get your views across.

You do not have to be an orator or clever with words. But clear expression of what you want to say, in a tone that reflects the mood of the moment, is more likely to be heard.

That tone can be factual, to put across the case for a way forward. It can be expressive, to generate emotion and sell ideas or changes. It can be relational, showing care and understanding. Or it can be driven, to show clear direction and goal orientation.

Each of these can, in turn, be expressed passively, assertively or aggressively - this is the fine-tuning needed to get your verbal and non-verbal styles saying what you want them to say.

President Obama used the setting of his speech to stir emotions and encourage crowd involvement. He played on the crowd's shared passion for their country, and used a combination of communication styles to reach his diverse audience.

Elaine Willis is a consultant -

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