There are very few things less productive and more damaging than rumors, unfounded speculation, and gossip.
If we could accurately calculate their negative effect within a work environment, many leaders would be shocked and moved to action. It is surprising, after all, that such commonplace occurrences could fuel extreme reductions in efficiency and productivity.
Each time a leader opens their mouth to speak, however mundane or seemingly inconsequential the topic, team members are listening. Not only are they listening, but they’re also speculating what impact the leader’s words or suggested course of action will have on them.
Setting Rumors into Motion
Suppose, for example, that you infer you’re interested in increasing your organization’s efficiency. What began as a casual remark can easily result in rumors of layoffs among your team. Maybe you unintentionally express frustration about the outcome of a project. This comment can easily cause team members to begin questioning their status with the company.
In short, by speaking without thinking, leaders become their own worst enemies. Once set into motion, unfounded speculation can result in one of the largest time-wasting activities within your organization.
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”
— Napoleon Hill.
A Trusted Thought Partner
Being aware of your words and how they might be perceived is a key leadership consideration. However, it’s vital that you, as a leader, have the opportunity to share your ideas and receive feedback. The way you go about it will cause your results to vary greatly.
Leaders need a trusted thought partner with whom they can think out loud and speak in a less filtered manner. When you have such a partner, you can hold confidential leadership brainstorming sessions. Once you’re ready to present your ideas and plans to your team, those concepts will be fully formed and lead to more accurate and comprehensive understanding. Rumors will have less opportunity to take root and grow in unintended directions.
Confining your thinking out loud to a small audience of trusted people also saves you significant time. There’s no task that consumes more time, or feels more ineffective, than trying to dispel rumors or counteract misinformation that has already grown legs.
Mean What You Say
New leaders can be disconcerted to discover that the simple act of imagining audibly can have such consequences. Consider that communication of any kind should be an intentional act. Each time a leader speaks, it implies a direction, whether intended or not.
Say what you mean and mean what you say in every venue you occupy. Leaders must embrace this practice early in their leadership tenures.
Whether news is good or bad, it must be conveyed with accuracy the first time it is given. This requires both preparation and intention. Every word spoken, whether specific or casual, has an impact on your company. When those words ripple through your organization, resulting in rumors and speculation, you’ll end up paying with your time.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” — James Humes
Leadership is about so much more than technical expertise in a particular field. It’s a set of practices to be developed and honed, just as one hones a specific job skill. When you are intentional about the study of leadership, you’ll be able to communicate effectively and encourage positive outcomes rather than allow rumors to become the bane of your daily existence.
Are you ready to give your communication skills a polish? Get in touch today!
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.