A huge amount of my time as an executive and leadership coach is spent interpreting. I am fluent in other languages and, as such, am accustomed to translating for other people. But the interpreting I’m talking about now is for boards of directors, leaders, and their employees, who all speak a common language but may not understand one another. I am often urging clients to interpret for themselves: Are you sure you said it that way? What words were you using? Are you certain this person meant that? Is it possible he or she meant something else? Plainly put, speaking is not the same as communicating. Speaking a common language (English, for example) isn’t the same as being understood.

To inspire and to motivate, a leader must communicate thoughtfully and intentionally with:

  • clarity,
  • passion,
  • vision and strategy,
  • frequency, and
  • shared objectives.

Today, let’s focus on clarity.

Communicating with clarity requires being open, honest, and using understandable words and shared vernacular. The best leaders have the courage to check for understanding — whether it is theirs or the person they are addressing. Likewise, they have the humility to admit when they may not understand what someone else is trying to communicate. Communicating with clarity takes time, but it’s like the time needed to construct the foundation of your home. If you do it right the first time, you don’t waste time going back and making repairs.

To learn more about how you can change your behavior to communicate more effectively, please refer to my book, Leading: The Way — Behaviors That Drive Success.

Paulette Ashlin