Manage Your Message
Here’s a hearty Leadership Freak welcome to Shawn Graham today’s guest blogger. Enjoy!
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As an undergrad studying economics, I remember a professor telling me about “Fed Watchers”—people that hang on the Chairman of the Federal Reserve’s every word and react based on their interpretation of whether the Fed will raise or lower interest rates. Talk about pressure! Ben Bernanke isn’t the only one who has to carefully manage his message. Whether you’re managing up, down, or sideways, you’re success depends largely on your ability to control reactions by meticulously managing your message.
Like Fed Watchers, coworkers, direct reports and your boss watch how you react as a leader. When you’re leading you’re always “on.” Small slip ups can cost you credibility that may take months to rebuild. Unless you decide to make a run for the Presidency in 2012, it’s unlikely you’ll have the resources to hire a personal “press secretary.” Luckily, there are other less costly strategies you can employ to manage our message.
Assess your audience. For example, some people process large chunks of information quickly while others prefer bite size pieces. Surprises energize some while others shut down.
Watch for reactions to your message. Do they look confused, disinterested, or anxious?
Adapt and vary your methods to suit the audience’s learning styles and need for information. Are you providing too much detail? Not enough?
Ask for feedback. Was the information you provided helpful? Was your delivery effective?
You may be a subject matter expert or a genius at project management but that’s not enough. Effective leaders create and deliver messages that inform, direct, and motivate. Failure to manage your message could cost you credibility, a promotion, or even your job.
Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (www.courtingyourcareer.com)
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