By Diane Streleckis - With the immediacy of social media and the web, the world has become more connected than ever. Yet especially during today’s turbulent times, that connection brings challenges for leaders wanting to get their messages out effectively to employees, clients, and a diverse and at times divided public.
- Be your authentic human self
- Try to see from others’ points of view as well as your own
- Recognize that for someone else to be right, you don’t have to be wrong
- Focus on what you can control rather than what you can’t
Be your authentic human self
According to Srijata, communication works well when it originates from a clear conscience, ethics, and great intentions to serve more people going toward the future, not sitting in the past.
“It’s about staying true to yourself,” she said.
Leaders often feel that they’re expected to say something during dramatic events. Srijata counsels a different approach. “Only when you have a genuine opinion about something and it’s coming from a point of view of authenticity, experience and current requirements should you open your mouth and say something,” she said.
Try to see from others’ points of view as well as your own
Diverse companies and diverse societies come with diverse viewpoints. Beware of the risks that come when a leader’s viewpoint is out of sync with current and potential employees, as well as stakeholders more broadly.
Srijata shared an example: “A celebrated Indian entrepreneur, someone seen as the same as Bill Gates, named Narayana Murthy, who’s 70-plus and comes from a different generation in the workforce, recently made a statement saying youngsters need to work 70 hours a week.”
Of course, there are now three additional generations in the workforce with different views on work-life balance.
“Number one, he’s going to lose the respect of Gen Z and millennial workers. And number two, this statement is a complete dissonance with the current narrative of having work-life integration and balance in your world,” she said.
Recognize that for someone else to be right, you don’t have to be wrong
“It’s not ‘I’m right, you’re right, they’re right, someone else is right’ and somebody else is wrong,” said Srijata. “We can all be right and we can all be wrong. Once we understand that, then our perspective completely changes—and I think that’s a beautiful thing.”
She shared an example where people reacted to a LinkedIn post she made about Elon Musk’s leadership style. “I didn’t go ahead and say ‘hey, you’re wrong’ (to people who objected to her points). I just let it be,” she said. “Eventually, people start respecting you more for not ping-ponging your ideas just because somebody is saying something else.”
Focus on what you can control rather than what you can’t
There are many things outside of our control, from world events such as the Ukraine/Russia and Israel/Hamas wars to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Srijata notes the things we can control are the things that originate with us.
“Leadership decisions (when you’re the leader), communications, rules and regulations, policies—these are all things that originate with us,” she said.
Returning to Narayana Murthy’s story, Srijata said, “He’s been getting trolled on social media and he brought it on himself.”
She recommended coaching leaders to talk about the big things, rather than the day-to-day stuff, and do their homework.
“You should always be speaking from some sense of being informed about the conversation (you’re entering),” she said.
Finally, she urged a communication best practice that every effective public speaker learns early—to read the room. When in person, she said, “Take a pause, look everywhere, see who’s there, see what they’re doing, and what kind of body language they have.”
Diane Streleckis is a writer and content strategist dedicated to using the power of words for good. Understanding what makes people tick and then sharing practical ideas to help support their needs and concerns is Diane’s mission. She’s applied this mission mindset across industries for more than 30 years.