It’s All About Perception

In today’s day and age, leaders often communicate with their teams using email, chat, ticketing tools, and other electronic means. This is a convenient way to stay in touch with your team and provide them with direction, however, tone can easily be misconstrued in these messages. Here are 4 ways to change your leadership tone and delivery so your message is not misinterpreted and your team knows exactly what to do.

I Need This

When you tell your team that you need something, the underlying message is that not only do you need it, but you need it right away. When team members hear these words, they assume it means they should drop everything they’re working on and address your need right away. This causes stress and resentment because the team member’s tasks become a lower priority by default, which means their tasks don’t hold as much meaning. Rather than tell your team that you need something, understand what their current priority list looks like. Work with them to see where your task might fit in their task list and agree on a delivery date that works well for both of you.

Related: How to use priority lists as a leadership tool

This Has To Be Done

When you tell your team something has to be done, it’s similar to telling them that you need something. Of course your task has to be completed, but when direction is given this way, it’s unclear when it’s expected to be completed and where it fits in with everything else. Ask your team member if they have bandwidth to take on the new task and if it’s realistic to complete within the expected timeline. If not, ask why. There may be something that you’re missing and this is a perfect opportunity to find out rather than make demands.

Just Wanted To Ask

The word ‘just’ should be completely removed from your vocabulary as a leader. Using this word suggests that you have low confidence. Instead of saying ‘just wanted to ask’, be direct. Ask your team member exactly what you need to know. Do it in an unintimidating way and be direct. Doing this will give you a clear and direct response.

This Is Wrong

If a task comes back to you and it’s completely wrong, the last thing you should say to your team member is that it’s wrong or that the result is horrible. If a completed task is off-base, chances are you didn’t provide clear direction. Take a look at the direction you provided and make the appropriate adjustments to provide clear direction every time. By doing this, you’ll get the result your looking for and you’ll get it the first time.

What other changes can be made in the way you deliver direction to your team? Have you considered attending a leadership training course to help you shore up tone and delivery? Let us know in the comments below.