The Art of Leadership Communications

Monday Message from Jerry Houston, President and CEO of HPISolutions

The Art of Leadership Communications

Why is it that when we ask what the biggest challenge is in leading people, the subject of COMMUNICATIONS is identified over 98% of the time?

What is it about communications that seems to have constant breakdowns between people?  This is true, not only in leadership, but also between peers, with your significant other, with your children, friends, and even between nations.

The definition of communication is simple and brief, the process is easy to diagram, and yet we all continue to mess up our communications with others!

The definition of communication is: “The exchange of ideas between two people.”    

Simple and brief.  One of the key reasons is that communicating involves more than “telling.”  It involves “understanding.”

We must realize that communicating is a two-way process… What?  A two-way process?  It looks like this:


Looks pretty simple, however, there is something missing.

Notice that the “sender” initiates a message to the “receiver”  The “receiver” accepts the message and confirms receipt, through feedback to the “sender”  How much simpler can it get?  Soooo, why doesn’t it work?

There are a number of reasons why messages are “misunderstood.”  For example:

  • Noise in the channel is a significant reason. There are a lot of distractions in the environment.  Other people talking, the receiver isn’t focused on what message is being sent, the sender isn’t taking the time to send the message in a clear way, and no-one is validating the message is received as it was intended by the sender.
  • The communication is interrupted by a phone call, email or text message.
  • The sender believes the message is so simple to understand that there is no need to verify it was received correctly.
  • The receiver answers; I got it, I understand, you bet! Got what? Understand what?  No one knows.

The communication model is simple, and that is the problem.  If we would all take the time to verify that the message sent is received and clearly understood, many of our communication problems would go away.  Don’t you think it worthwhile spending that little bit of time and effort to save on misunderstanding, errors, and frustration caused by the simplest mis-cues?

Try to incorporate some best practices here.  If you are the sender, simply ask the receiver to “repeat back to me what I said, to be sure I stated it correctly.” Or if you are the receiver, state, “let me repeat back to you to make sure I understood you correctly.”  Owning the communication from either end of the communication loop will greatly improve accurate communications.  This gains importance when your role is a leader because you bear the responsibility of communicating accurately with those reporting to you.  Be sure you are modeling the communication style that you want to see from others.

Have a Great Week!


  • Terry kinney

    Distractions! Major problem. Or the hearing but not listening. On important things I now ask for a confirmation retell of the info. Always helps. Not only are you reassured they understand, they are on notice of your expectations of them paying attention.

    • hpiadmin

      Excellent point about expectations of their attention! It takes engagement on both sides for effective communication.

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