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Communication and success tips for newly promoted leaders

“The quality of your communication determines the size of your result.”

tips for newly promoted leaders

Have you just been promoted to a new position or are you on track for a new leadership role in your agency or organization?  It’s always important to be prepared before and when the opportunity comes. Effective communication is a skill you always need to have in your toolbox.

Here are some great communications and leadership tips for newly promoted managers.

Use power words

tips for newly promoted leaders
“Words explain, motivate, encourage, discourage, inspire, depress, demand, invite, guide, mislead, clarify, confuse, hearten and terrify.” The top 11 touchstones and key words in every manager’s day-to-day communication should be:
  1. “Accountability” – It is important that no project begins without someone taking responsibility and accountability.
  2. “Collaborate” – Teamwork is essential to business. It grows from collaboration.
  3. “Decisions” – Managers make hard choices every day. That is the essence of business.
  4. “Ethics” – Unethical businesspeople are headed for a fall.
  5. “Evaluate” – Use your best judgment when making “value decisions.”
  6. “Excellence” – Lead your employees to accomplish high-quality work.
  7. “Learn” – Learning involves distilling knowledge from experience. Use “learn” instead of “find out” or “discover,” because such active usage sounds and works better.
  8. “Mission” – A well-defined sense of purpose elevates a specific goal or objective.
  9. “Performance” – Encourage others toward peak performance and “continuous improvement.”
  10. “Quality” – No business can succeed without a focus on excellence.
  11. “Vision”- Stated concisely and with passion

Be a great listener

Effective communication requires “active listening.” Managers are not dictators. They depend on dialogue to earn cooperation. To demonstrate attentive listening, respond to people with open body language. For instance, don’t put your hands across your chest or on your hips. Mirror the other person’s phrasing as much as possible. That way you are demonstrating that you listened.

Mind your body language

tips for newly promoted leaders
Your body language speaks louder than your words. Here are some essential body language tips:
  • Tilt your head – This signals engagement.
  • Don’t shake your head no – This signals rejection.
  • Eye contact – Stay focused on the person who is speaking.
  • Don’t lower your chin – This signals defensiveness.
  • Pay attention to the other person’s breathing – “Rapid breathing” suggests anxiety.
  • Nod – When someone is talking to you, nod once in a while to signal that you are listening.

Make your first day count

What you do as a new manager communicates as much as what you say. Proper preparation before your first day at work can have an impact on how effective you are as a manager. For instance, research your new company comprehensively. When you start working, don’t hide in your office. Walk around, greet people and get to know them. Ask what projects they are handling. Don’t change things right away. “Always speak from knowledge.” If you’re not sure what you’re talking about, don’t say anything.

Carefully plan how you will conduct yourself during your first meeting with your staff. When you get up to speak, take three or four seconds to establish your presence. This implies confidence and self-assuredness. Plus, it gives your employees time to focus on you and what you will say. Don’t lock onto your notes. Establish eye contact with one person and then another. Then speak.

Make clarity your goal

Clarity in written and spoken communications depends on staying focused, speaking to the point and being transparent. When communicating information, reinforce the values you share with your employees so you can bond and prompt additional communication. When you request information, specify exactly what type you want, when and how you prefer to receive it. To provide instructions, use the “Five Ws” approach delineating “Who? What? When? Where?” and “Why?” Don’t make instructions long and cumbersome. Define your objectives and goals clearly.

Praise on the go

Praise is a greater motivator than criticism. Don’t just give praise, try and tell a story. Supportive words a coach might use include: reset, overcome, self-starter and “retry.” Destructive phrases to avoid include: “don’t rock the boat,” “follow orders,” “boss” and “punish.”

Do not assume

Do not assume that an employee understands everything you say. Ask, “Am I being clear, and do you have any questions?” Good managers inspire and motivate. Your language will build morale or tear it down. Do not focus on impractical goals; instead, enable good work and encourage your staffers. Be enthusiastic. Don’t gloss over problems or obstacles – acknowledge them. Then confidently propose solutions.

Super-efficient meetings

Have a clear agenda for every meeting. Without preplanning, your meetings will waste time. An agenda must include a stated purpose for the meeting and a list of issues to discuss. Avoid open-ended meetings, which wreck your employees’ schedules. Know in advance how much time you want to spend on each segment of your meeting. Don’t include more people in a meeting than you need to have.

Say We – not I or You

After a staff member tells you about some negative situation, don’t say, “You have a real problem there.” Instead, say, “We have real problem here.” This signals that you and the staffer are on the same side.

Switching from singular “I” or “you” to the plural “we” will help shift your perspective from self-focused to others-focused, and will make you more aware of the needs of others. As you work to meet those needs, you emerge a better leader. Always remember that “effective leadership requires effective communication.”[1]

Compassion magic

tips for newly promoted leaders

We saved the best for the last. A few decades ago, leaders liked to say, “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” A compassionate leader instead will say: “Bring me the problem and/or bring me the solution, whichever you prefer. I have time to hear you and seek to understand you. I have the space to help you and support you in finding the best solution for everyone.”[2]

Compassion doesn’t mean being soft and laid back. It means care and empathy. Compassion in leadership creates stronger connections between people. It makes people feel heard and understood. It improves collaboration, raises levels of trust, and enhances loyalty. In addition, studies find that compassionate leaders are perceived as stronger and more competent leaders.  

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