How Leaders Communicate to Get Things Done and Make an Impact

Today, I had my first podcast interview in two years, and it was really fun. 

The host, Mike Horne, is an experienced coach who has seen the ins and out of business, and was a great thinking partner to discuss the expert to leader journey.  I noticed that my ideas had more depth and breadth when spoken aloud.  (Is this an extravert quality or true for everyone?)

Preparing for the podcast was also a great “forcing function” to organize my ideas on scientific leadership and see how they’ve evolved after partnering with different organizations and coaching many leaders over the last few years.

So when the host asked me for the one piece of advice to listeners on the expert to leader journey, I was ready with:

Experts speak about facts; leaders speak about purpose and impact.

Recently, I did a workshop with a cross-functional team (a project core team in  biotech/pharma lingo).  I noticed that sometimes data would be presented at their meetings as a series of facts without accompanying explanation, and the rest of the team would listen politely without grasping what was expected of them. 

We all want our knowledge to be understood and applied.  Too often, it is not. 

Why? Because the listeners don’t have the context and can’t see why the information matters – the so what. 

Here’s an exercise I did with the team to help them communicate better within their team and up to their management.  I asked them to imagine telling a senior leader about a recent finding using this framework:

  1. The Context: The purpose of this experiment was to…/ We looked into this because…
  2. The Facts: We believe the data show…/ Right now, the status is….
  3. The “So What”: The impact of this is/ Why we care is…
  4. The Follow-up:  The proposed next steps are… / We are still working to understand it and will get back to you by …

By providing a “container” for the information, you can greatly increase the probability that what you say will be understood and applied.  Furthermore, the thought process of “containerizing” is great practice for the leadership mindset.

Please try it and let me know what you think.  I may try this approach with my husband who really doesn’t like it when I give a long, convoluted answer to a question, explaining my full reasoning! (Yes, I need my own advice).

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