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A Communication Checklist for Leaders

When it comes to communicating, fit leaders learn early that individuals on their teams seem to thrive on certain types of communication, while with other types of communication employee engagement and trust wane. In asking hundreds of seminar particpants what kind of communication they want and expect from their leaders, we hear the following on a consistent basis. Employees seek communication that is:

Straightforward and direct
Comprehensive
Clear and concise
Positive
Constructive
Timely and specific
Frequent
Face-to-face when appropriate
Professional
Big picture
Two-way
Up front

When we ask employees want they don’t want, we hear the following:

Unwanted and extra information
Rambling
Non-actionable feedback
Company gossip
Interruptions that are unjustified
Non-constructive criticism
Condescension
Micromanagement
Negative attitudes
Constant changes in direction
Lack of support or commitment
Vagueness
Finger pointing
Passing the buck
Conflicting goals and priorities

Most leaders can point to examples where we have communicated in ways that are both uplifting for our people and in ways that may have sapped the energy of our teams and taken their focus off of what is most important. The opportunity for all of us is to spend more time on the first list of communication wants above and to avoid as many of the items on the second list as possible.

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