Still, while the trees are beautiful as their leaves turn from green to yellow, orange and red, they pose a problem too—if you’re responsible for removing them after they’ve fallen. Most yards, parks, green areas and so on, contain different varieties of trees that all shed their leaves at different times. The leaves on one tree could have already been on the ground for more than two weeks, while another tree still stubbornly is holding onto about a third of its foliage.
Yearly, I watch the leaves accumulate, and think about when to rake. If I rake too soon, I’d have to do it again in a week or so. If I wait, I’ll have much more heavy lifting. Most years, I go ahead and rake even if some trees aren’t done shedding their leaves, because I have free time or the weather was right. I do it, knowing I’d be out there doing it all again. The thing is, while I’ll have to do it more often, it will be less work than waiting to do it all at once.
Many leaders treat communication like raking leaves
You were waiting on the leadership lesson, right? Well here it is: Many leaders treat communication like raking leaves. They know communication needs to take place. They plan to get to it, but they are waiting for just the “right” time, when they can communicate to everyone at once and avoid having to do it twice.
That communication strategy is flawed in almost every way. As leaders one of our most fundamental tasks is communication. If you’re waiting for “just the right time,” you likely are waiting too long. If you proudly boast that you have it covered because you “sent everyone the email,” it’s a safe bet someone misunderstood your message or missed it altogether.
The wind will blow in more leaves, forcing you to rake again
The same applies to communication. Changes happen and you must reprioritize. People will be confused, and you will need to clear up misunderstandings. New information will come to light and you will need to change course. People will make mistakes, and you will need to correct them. The Rumor Mill will be going strong, and you will need to step in and set the record straight. You can never just communicate something once, and be done with it.
You need to communicate more often and in different ways.
Rather than waiting for the perfect time, communicate now. Find another reason or another medium, and reinforce and important message today. Even if you don’t have all the information (i.e., some of your leaves are still on the tree), tell people what you do know. By doing that, you will be building trust while sharing information that your team needs to be successful.
Finally, before you dismiss this advice as a leadership style issue, don’t. The need for communication trumps style. Your role as a leader requires you to communicate. Your desire to be a highly effective leader, demands that you not only build your communication skills, but communicate frequently.
So just like you rake to keep leaves from overwhelming you, communicate regularly and often.