Leaders must be effective communicators. There is no doubt about it. You show me a leader who struggles to communicate, and I will show you a team that is struggling to perform.
A significant event in my career happened when I walked into a pharmacy in South Carolina to talk about this pharmacy’s performance on cholesterol medications and the pharmacist said to me, “I don’t know what to say to my patients.” What I came to realize is this pharmacist didn’t know how to lead his patients to take their cholesterol medications. If that day hadn't happened, I might not be writing this blog for you today.
There is an important leadership lesson to grasp here. This lesson has been taught to me on several occasions as a speaker. The leader leads for the benefit of the follower. In short, it’s not about you; it’s about them.
As a speaker, I have prepared presentations that I thought were fantastic. I would then give the presentation and essentially hear crickets. There have been other times where I have delivered presentations that, by my standard, I felt were real stinkers only to have several people express gratitude for how the presentation impacted them. (Before I go further, I need to add this disclaimer: when we deliver messages that people appreciate, even if we are not proud of them, that is not permission to deliver poorly prepared messages. If anything, it is an invitation to find out what allowed the message to be received well.)
In leadership terms, we must remember that the message must be received to have value. And the receipt is dependent on and determined by the receiver. This holds true for the teams we lead and the patients we serve.
As much as we would probably like to believe that people will respond to a message because of who or where it is from, the reality is there is more to it. You and I have sat through presentations where the PowerPoint slides were much more engaging than the presenter. Perhaps we have even given PowerPoint presentations where our slides were more engaging than what we shared with our audience. If that is the case, would those presentations be about the presenter or the audience?
Speaker confession #2: It’s not about you; it’s about them.
The leadership implication for this principle is when we make it about our audience, it allows us to more easily connect with our audience to move them forward.
How do you remember to make the conversation about your audience, even if your audience is just one person?
Until next time –
Jesse McCullough, PharmD
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