by Stephanie Bickel
Communication skills training covers more than just how to become a better speaker. Communication coaching also involves practicing the way you talk to inspire others and grow your followers. When you do this, you are creating a “North Wind” that continually pulls others toward you. People begin to hunger for your thoughts and opinions.
One of the most important people you can have in your “North Wind” is your boss. How can you delight your leader to increase your connection and deepen your relationship? Start with the idea that people like to feel smart, successful, popular, high principled, and attractive. Find ways to highlight how your boss is all of these. Let them know. Tell them often. Share your thoughts with others. Focusing on these 5 values can help your leader see the value that they are adding to the team and to the organization.
If you took a communication skills course with us, here’s a comprehensive list of the communication coaching advice we would give you to delight your leaders.
1. Align to their goals
Speak what they are speaking. Quote them. They will know you are listening when you repeat what they say.
Send an email within 3 hours of a call with the first draft response or ghosted document 10% version. Check in to see if approach is in line with their goals.
2. Lift their mindset
Lift their thinking when it becomes too narrow. Remind them of the bigger picture.
- About their worries
- “If I could remove a burden, what would it be?”
- “What do you want to see change in 2021?”
- “What behaviors on the team drive you nuts?”
Keep a journal of all that this leader is doing that you admire and are learning from. Bring it to a 1:1 meeting and surprise them with a list of their inspiring moments.
Make conversation more about them than about you.
3. Give advice
Give advice on timing.“I just spoke with Susan, this is the perfect time to mention ‘X’.”
Tell them when a meeting didn’t go well. Be mindful of word choice. Use ‘interesting’ instead of ‘bad’. Use ‘provocative’ instead of ‘uncomfortable’. “That meeting was interesting. There were some moments that were provocative. I have some ideas for the next time you bring up that subject. Would you like to discuss?”
Help them understand how to approach the topic or situation with more appeal.
4. Be generous with information
Give before they ask and anticipate their needs.
Give unprompted updates. For example, tell them why the report is late.
Escalate issues directly to the leader and be ready to share options for solutions and ask specific questions.
Be dramatic in the way you inspire them through success stories and new strategies you envision.
Deliver updates that calm people down.
Pay it forward with information, connections, and time. When you need to ask for a favor, it won’t seem like a huge effort because you have given so much.
5. Make their life easier
Send complete information. Even if they send you a short email, resist the urge to send a short one back. Answer all of the W’s – who, what, where, when, why, how.
Offer to get on the phone and talk through any remaining issues. Send your availability.
Always attach the document. Don’t make them dig through notes to find a previous email.
If he/she gives a piece of feedback, apply to that one area and then try to sweep across many areas.
Stop asking them for career advice and budget.
6. Be their #1 communication channel
Listen and quote them. Share their vision and goals with others.
Talk up your leader to your peers and to their peers. Set them up like royalty.
Provide feedback and insight on how they are leading the team.
Help them remember birthdays and special people moments. Mention them on social media. Give advice on timing of conversations with lateral leaders.
7. Improve meeting dynamics
Never debate and disagree with your leader on the line. Release your team from the meeting if you do need to have a debate.
Call out the leader privately when he/she is doing something that is hard on the team (like changing directions or not making a decision).
Give them space to speak early and drop off the call. Release your leader from a
meeting when the work gets very tactical.
Don’t fight them for air time.
8. Be a forward thinker
Take ownership of mistakes and learn from them instead of worrying about your performance reviews.
Don’t worry if others are getting more attention than you. The more drama you are going through, the more it is a sign you don’t know how to run good processes and put in place preventive measures. It’s good if your operations are boring.
As with anything else, make a list of your current strengths and then look for other opportunities to delight your leaders. What are you already doing to highlight their value? What can you do differently? Imagine the benefits and the growth if you start doing a few more of these. When you find ways to contribute to your ‘North Wind’, you will draw people to your thoughts and ideas. Leaders will begin to seek you out as the obvious choice for the next project or the next promotion. Delight your leaders and see future opportunities open up all around you.
Become a speaker who can command any room. Speak by Design University is a one-of-a-kind leadership communication program. It’s the only leadership communication program in the world that gives you access to self-paced learning, group coaching and training and, most importantly, private one-on-one coaching. Learn more and register.