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The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership Communications

The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership Communications

Time to Read: Around 10 seconds per Deadly Sin

Naked Leader Week 10012 – 27 February 2023

The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership Communications – by Diana Oakes.

Reading David’s recent ‘Don’t do what’s in this blog’  advice reminded me of a director, who’d been recently appointed to lead a large department in a huge company. He asked me for some tips on how to communicate with his people.

Here’s what I gave him:

The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership Communications:

7. Don’t get to know the make-up of your audience.

The way your message will be received depends on dozens of things, including your audience’s location, their level of seniority, the type of job they do, their current mood, and so much more…

6. Assume what your audience wants to hear and ignore your Comms team.

What you think you need to tell people is often very different from what they need to hear. You don’t have to release embargoed information, but you can still tell people honestly why, and when they will hear more.

5. Avoid keeping your promises.

I sadly see many leaders promising ‘more information shortly’ and it never materialises. There’s no faster way to lose reputation and trust.

4. Use lots of acronyms and business-speak.

No brainer. And my main pet peeve. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” (A. Einstein). Research shows that over a third of employees don’t understand daily workplace communication. Jargon and buzzwords are simply the adult version of ‘cool kids speak.’

3. Communicate by email, avoid the camera and the face-to-face meeting.

Choosing the right channel for your message is as important as choosing the right clothes for the weather. Important messages should be communicated in person or on a video call. But always follow up with a written message for clarity and extra detail.

2. Ignore your tone or body language when communicating.

Another sure-fire way to shoot your message in the foot and lack conviction. Pay attention to what your facial expressions and body convey – get someone to watch you and feedback. Are your tone and behaviour in harmony with what you’re saying? Do you give out unintended signals that undermine the message?

1. Be vague about what people should do as a result of your message.

The simplest yet the least thought about point when preparing to communicate: what do you want people to know? How do you want them to feel after they read or hear your words? Most importantly, what do you want them to do?

Many thanks Diana



Diana Oakes is a Communications Lead at Lloyds Banking Group, and a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communications. Her debut novel, ‘The Light of Kautokeino’ will focus on the discrimination suffered even today by the Sámi people of Scandinavia – Europe’s last indigenous population.

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