There are two competitive advantages that are completely within a startup’s control. The first is you, the founder, and how well you take care of and develop yourself and, most importantly, how you show up and lead. The second is your company’s culture, which can be defined as the values, behaviors and interactions of the organization.
If and/or how well these competitive advantages are working often comes down to effective communication - with your prospective and existing employees, your partners, your investors and, of course, your customers.
“To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of the culture, which depends on the quality of the relationships, which depends on the quality of the conversations. Everything happen through conversations!” Judith E. Glaser
Indeed, everything happens through conversations - whether IRL or via Slack.
As the leader, you are Communicator-in-Chief of the company’s vision and strategy for execution. Intentionally and continuously strengthening your communication skills should always be top of mind.
In addition, as the leader, your team is watching you closely to inform their own behaviors and interactions. The onus is on you to run meetings and engage in conversations in the manner you expect of others.
Here are 5 ways to improve your / your company’s conversations and communications today:
1. Be a conscious conversationalist:
Be aware of your state of mind and your words, tone, nonverbal cues.
Make sure you are actually hearing, not just listening to, what your employees, customers, investors, etc. are saying.
Pay attention to the cues of others so that you can detect when you are not on the same page and need to reframe or redirect.
2. Deconstruct conversations you were not happy with. Ask yourself: “What went wrong, How would I frame it differently given the another chance?”
3. Practice Radical Candor, as per Ray Dalio, Kim Scott and Patty McCord.
4. Cultivate a “Culture of Fast Feedback” by asking for and giving timely and direct feedback. Get people comfortable communicating in success and failure.
5. Create and implement a well-defined Communication Architecture. Make sure there is clarity around how, when, why and to whom information travels.