When leaders attempt to imprint important messages, such as strategy, values, and vision, down throughout the team and organization, they harness multiple mediums to get the job done. The most common of these is the formal communication organizations are known for — culture decks, mission and value statements, guiding principle documents, and emails that outline current strategy. Good leaders supplement these formal messages with informal conversations, discussing the ideas in team meetings, at town halls, and in review discussions.
Above them all, however, are the decisions made by leaders and their organizations. When we are thinking of traditional messaging, decisions are somewhat hidden from view. Yet, they send the loudest and strongest messages. Pound-for-pound, nothing communicates more strongly than decisions.
When team members really want to know what matters inside an organization, they naturally look to decisions: who gets hired, who gets promoted, who gets included, who gets recognized, who gets compensated, who gets rewarded. These are the decisions that tell others the real story. Team members pay close attention to these decisions to understand and navigate the organization.
The best leaders know their decisions send the loudest messages. They understand that formal and informal messages pale in comparison to the critical decisions they make. Knowing this, leaders must become conscious and strategic to align their decisions to the messages they want to send.
Spending the time to evaluate what past decisions have established the frame of reference team members currently utilize to understand the organization is also a healthy exercise. When leaders understand that decisions underline what really matters, they become much better communicators.
What messages have you been sending through your decisions?