My Communication as a Leader
This article is written for UC Berkeley’s IEOR 171: Technology Firm Leadership (Fall 2020) class.
How do I communicate as a leader?
As a leader, I am a pretty relaxed and down-to-earth type of leader. I value honest and open communication. I usually straightforwardly speak to my team members, and I expect them to do the same with me. I am not usually strict and often infuse humor in my communication. I don’t really dictate what people have to do. I just make suggestions for the best course of action, and I suggest roles for my team members to take. I usually allow an open discussion so that everyone’s voice and opinions are heard.
In terms of speaking to a large crowd, I am very logical and not really personable. I find that down-to-earth characteristics easier to showcase in smaller teams. However, in front of a large audience, I talk to the point and don’t show any sort of charisma.
What will you start doing as a leader?
As a leader in small team meetings, I want to enforce more structure. When I am conducting a relaxed meeting, my team members often lose sight of the next steps or plan of action post-meeting. So, I am going to start keeping an agenda for team-meetings such that everyone is on the page. I also want to keep meeting notes, so that everything is kept on record. This ensures traceability and accountability.
In terms of public communication, I want to start incorporating more stories that are more personable to the audience. If I am meeting someone for the first time, I want to engage in small-talk to make the person feel warm and comfortable. When I am talking to a large audience, I want them to feel like they can relate to me. I think this comes with practice and breaking my shyness to meet new people and engage in conversation. The more I practice conversing with people from different backgrounds, the more natural it becomes to communicate.
What will I stop doing as a leader?
In certain projects, some team members view me more as a friend than a leader. I think this comes from the fact that I don't usually exuberate a dictatorial leadership vibe. However, I think I need to discern the difference between a leader and a friend. I need my members to understand that while I am friendly, I am their leader and voice.
To do this, I have to stop being too casual and putting a lot of expectations on my team members early on. I need to communicate with them their exact duties and obligation and should feel comfortable questioning them when something goes wrong. By clearing communicating the ground rules, I think my leadership will be more powerful and rigid.
What will you continue doing?
As a leader, I still want to continue to communicate honestly and openly. I don't think there is any point in hiding emotions or being fake. Good or bad, I still want to express how I feel about my team members and their work. Likewise, I want them to do the same for me.
I thinking valuing honesty makes everyone in the team more comfortable, and they can truly understand their strengths and weakness. It helps with work getting done more quickly because people are more open about blockers or asking for help. It also helps with self-improvement. As a leader, I can also understand my team's emotions and adjust how I should lead.