According to a recent survey of nearly one thousand US workers, 91 percent of employees say communication issues can prevent effective leadership in countless ways—from not giving clear directions to failing to earn employee trust to presenting more as automaton than human. What’s more, we know that businesses as small as one hundred employees spend, on average, more than $500,000 per year clarifying ineffective communication.
If the gap in communication skills is so wide, and the consequences of poor communication are so dire, why isn’t communication the absolute top priority for any executive?
A recent article from the Forbes Coaches Council breaks down five common excuses executives give for their lack of enthusiasm for communication training:
- I’ve been communicating all my life. Why would I need to practice now?
- If anyone found out I was being coached, they’d question my leadership.
- I got where I am today based on my communication skills.
- I’m too high up to need coaching, but my team could benefit.
- I’m too busy.
At Quantified Communications, we hear this pushback all the time, too. And we get it: executives have a lot on their plate as it is, and it’s all too easy to come up with reasons not to add another commitment. But here are a few things we always ask reluctant leaders to keep in mind when we hear excuses like these:
Leadership Communication Is Different from Day-to-Day Professional and Personal Communication
If you’ve always been a strong communicator, that’s great, and your communication skills probably did help you get where you are today. But as the leader of a company, it’s your responsibility to learn how to communicate with a wide variety key audiences and stakeholders in a way that helps them achieve their company’s goals. Your business’s reputation and bottom line are in your hands, and your requirements for successful communication are more complicated than ever before. Why leave it to chance?
Company Values Start at the Top
It’s perfectly common for leaders to feel a little uncomfortable at the idea of being coached. It’s not easy to be vulnerable when an entire organization is watching your every move. But what leaders often forget is that company values and perspectives are built from the top down. Rather than viewing communication coaching as a weakness, try framing it as a desire to do whatever it takes to do the best job you can. If employees see that their leadership is committed to ongoing learning and improvement, they will be, too.
Being Busy Is No Excuse
Trust us. We know you’re busy. That’s why we like to make communication improvement as efficient as possible, so that every hour you spend working on your communication skills is packed with useful exercises that leave lasting effects. Our data-driven analyses and improvement plans are designed to help leaders and their communications teams identify and prioritize development opportunities and create strategies that will help leaders earn the biggest “bang for their buck,” making the improvements they need to achieve their goals withoutwasting a second of time.
So to the executives who are ready and eager to fire off yet another reason communication training probably isn’t necessary right now: take a step back. Think about the incredible benefits of strong leadership communication and the consequences of letting those skills slide, and work with your team to identify a strategy that will help you set a strong example for your organization and empower you to achieve all of your professional and organizational goals.