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The Four Fundamentals of Effective Leadership
By Punch Kollins

Discussing topics designed to teach leaders how to avoid the pitfalls of effective leadership by mastering the Four Fundamentals of Leadership. Leaders who master these fundamentals, often build successful teams who master results.

  • Know yourself
  • Know the people you lead
  • Know your mission
  • Know how to employ the people you lead in accordance with their strengths and weaknesses.

This article addresses one of the pitfalls to effective leadership, poor communication.

The Stages of Communication

There are three participants in communication, the sender, the message, and the receiver. The sender sends the message, the message contains and carries the content and tone, and the receiver receives the message. If any of the three participants are missing, no communication takes place. Even when we talk to ourselves, all three participants are present. Effective communication happens in four stages, processing, sending, receiving, and processing again.

Processing happens when the communicator decides that a message needs to be conveyed. We communicate to persuade, to provide information, to inquire, or to express an emotion. The development of that message begins in the mind. A mind that has been shaped by people, places, things and events from our past, our current interaction with the world around us, and a desired end state for the conversation. There are also some mitigating circumstances that can affect the development of a message, such as the speaker’s current attitude and emotion, the past experience with the receiver, and the time allotted to convey the message. Often times this step happens congruently with the next.

Sending is the desired vehicle in which a message travels and it’s tone. Regardless if it’s written, verbal, or nonverbal a tone is established. For example, to convey shouting in written communication, we capitalize; in verbal communication we raise our pitch and tone; and and in nonverbal communication we use excessive hand and arm gestures. Author Jarod Kintz said, “I consider conversations with people to be mind exercises, but I don’t want to pull a muscle, so I stretch a lot. That’s why I’m constantly either rolling my eyes or yawning.” Funny!

Receiving happens when the intended receiver engages in reading, listening, or observing a sent message. The receiver does not have to be the intended receiver, he or she can be a passerby who overhears the message and will engage also in the next stage.

The final processing stage is that of the receiver. The receiver’s mind has also been shaped by people, places, things and events from his or her past and current interaction with the world around them. However, the mitigating circumstances that affect the decoding of the message differ from that of the sender. Sure a previous encounter with the sender weighs heavily, but it’s the current state of mind of the receiver that affects the decoding of the message the most. For instance, if the receiver is not feeling well, he or she may be more inclined to misinterpret the message. If the receiver is angry or mad about a situation separate from the current interaction, may respond harshly.

“Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way”!

As leaders, we should become more aware and engaging in this process and know that in each communication transaction we not only become senders but receivers as well. It is our responsibility to ensure effective communication takes place so let us assess our message content and tone to ensure the proper message is being sent with a greater chance of being interpreted correctly.

Punch Kollins is a motivational speaker and leadership trainer and coach with fifteen years of senior level leadership experience.

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