by Dr. Kittie Watson
Take a moment to envision the leader who has most inspired you. Rather than picturing a person holed up in an executive office, meeting with board members or talking with his or her inner circle, most of us visualize a leader who models the values and culture they seek to create. These visible leaders reach out to employees and build TRUST by seeking ways to:
• Tailor messages using stories and illustrations that each employee understands.
• Reveal authenticity and conviction whether talking one-to-one or in a group.
• Use multi-channel messages – email, video, small group, town hall meetings, etc.
• Spend time in real dialogue and truly listen to other’s points of view.
• Tell their truth and offer constructive feedback, provide clarity and celebrate success.
What is the “real work” of a leader? Communication. Without clear and compelling key messages reinforcing their vision, strategy, priorities and values, leaders are not successful. All great leaders possess at least one key communication asset whether it be clarity, passion, simplicity, storytelling, authenticity, optimism, empathy, responsiveness, preparedness, presence, or charisma. And, most great leaders have two or more communication assets. Similar to great athletes, great leaders work to refine and enhance their “game.”
For ongoing success, leaders understand the criticality of:
• “Key Message(s).” Leaders understand what is most important. They distill messages into key ones they believe in and they repeat these messages over and over in a multitude of settings.
•“Listener’s Perspective.” Since listeners decide when and how to listen, they control communication. Failure to understand and adapt to different audiences and stakeholders puts leaders at risk.
• “Adaptive Mindset.” Situations change and great communicators recognize the impact of “strategic in the moment” messages during one-to-one, team and formal presentations.
• “Deliberate Practice.” Communication is an art. Even leaders thought to be “great communicators” continually work to improve their skills and most receive professional training and coaching to refine and enhance their effectiveness.
We encourage leaders to take advantage of building their own and their company’s communication assets. Remember, the most successful leaders use every opportunity to reinforce what is most important and symbolically bring ”life” to significant messages. They know how their stakeholders LISTEN and carefully prepare messages to encourage, describe, reinforce, influence, challenge and ask questions in ways that grow leaders and build great places to work. They COMMUNICATE WITH IMPACT!
Dr. Kittie Watson is President and founder of Innolect Inc., a global leadership and organization development firm that prepares executives and their teams to succeed in high-performance, high-integrity workplaces. With over twenty-five years of strategic change management experience, Kittie has been a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 C-suite officers seeking to accelerate positive business results today and create legacies of excellence for the future.
Under her leadership Innolect has developed a community of credentialed experts and coaches who advise, design and facilitate strategies that rewire an organization and drive outstanding leadership at each stage of executive advancement. Innolect prepares its clients to compete more effectively in the marketplace by building the skilled leaders and collaborative teams that drive productivity and enterprise-wide agility.
Towards this end, Kittie brings a deep appreciation for the challenges faced by executives in high-stakes settings and works exceptionally well with mission-critical business needs. Focused on creating more inclusive cultures, she quickly sizes up the crux of difficult situations and provides leaders with powerful solutions that pay off for themselves and their stakeholders
Kittie has worked with the top leadership teams of Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, government agencies and non-profit organizations. She has extensive experience in orchestrating assessment and change initiatives in organizations such as Bayer, Zoetis, Carolina’s Healthcare, Entergy, Compass, Cricket, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Federal Reserve Board, Pfizer, Equifax, US Army, Resolute, SonyBMG, San Antonio Credit Union, Southern Company, Genentech, Siemens and Wells Fargo.
An internationally known communication and listening expert, she served as the youngest Chair of the Department of Communication at Tulane University. Author of 15 books, Kittie is listed as one of the top twenty-five most prolific women writers in communication. Her assessment tools (Watson-Barker Listening Test, Listener Preference Profile, etc.) are used globally to enhance individual and team effectiveness. She has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, American Medical News, Bottom-line Personal, Money, SHRM, Enterprising Women, Chief Learning Officer, Glamour and Home Office Computing. Her co-authored book, Listen Up!, has been published in eight languages.
Kittie is a nationally recognized business leader. Recent awards include being named as a scholar with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at Babson College in 2016 and as a 2015 Business Star by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). She was recognized by Sonoco with their 2015 Diversity Supplier Award for Innolect’s persistence, innovation and quality.
She serves on the WaterStone Foundation, The Edge Connection for Microenterprises and Greater Women’s Business Council (2nd Vice Chair) boards. Kittie co-founded The Institute for Intrapersonal Processes (ISIP), a 5013c nonprofit that promotes research in intrapersonal processes and development for under-represented groups and underprivileged individuals. An Honorary Women Build Chair for Habitat for Humanity, Kittie has a commitment to “Pay it Forward.” She serves on the Vetted Heroes Advisory Board and is an advocate for social justice issues worldwide. She has worked with Duke University to offer more extensive pain-management options for women with breast cancer as well as with “Mothering across Continents” in South Africa, Women for Women and The Trampled Rose NGO organizations in Ethiopia. Find out more about Dr. Watson at innolect.com