School Business Affairs June 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JUNE 2019 5 C lear, open communication is critical to building and leading a successful, productive organization. It’s what separates a poor leader from an exceptional one. What can you do to become a more effec- tive communicator in your role as a leader? Here are a few strategies that have helped me become a better communicator and a more effective leader: Be Authentic. Replace ego with empathy. Ego can sometimes get in the way of effective communication because it prohibits us from understanding and considering others’ perspectives; our focus is on ourselves and not on our audience. Effective leaders are sensitive to the views of others and take them into consideration when craft- ing their communication, whether written or face-to-face. Focus on Honesty and Transparency. Members of a community need a safe environ- ment in order to grow and learn, and that envi- ronment is built on honesty and transparency. Leaders gain support and earn respect by being honest and transparent in their communications rather than cherry picking information to share. Unless those with whom we are communi- cating truly believe we are being open, honest, and transparent, our messages are likely to land on deaf ears. Listen More Than You Speak. Effective leaders are active listeners who concentrate on what is being said, make eye contact, avoid interrupting, and take note of nonverbal cues rather than simply “hearing” the message. They keep an open mind and thoughtfully respond to what is said rather than automatically reacting to it. Keep a Sense of Humor. Our daily communications consist of much more than the information we give and receive; their emotional tone is just as important. Maintaining a sense of humor, even when the message we are delivering or receiving is negative, can enhance the effectiveness of our communications. Laughing relieves stress and releases endorphins, which can help improve the overall tenor of a conversation. Pay Attention to Nonverbal Communication. A significant amount of our communication is nonverbal. Noting the nonverbal communica- tion of others—their facial expressions, body language, gestures, and posture—can provide leaders with excellent feedback about how the audience is receiving and reacting to the message. Know Your Audience. The most effective communication arises out of familiarity with and understanding of those with whom we are communicating. Knowing the intended audience’s motivations, preferred communication styles, learning styles, knowl- edge of the topic/subject, etc., allows leaders to adapt their message and increase the chance of productive communication. Making a Point For most of us, the journey to becoming an effective communicator takes a great deal of time and practice through real-life experience. However, it’s a skill that is worth the effort to develop. As Lee Iacocca said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” Strengthening Leadership Through Effective Communication By Tom Wohlleber, CSRM president’s message Tom Wohlleber Chief Financial Officer Casa Grande (Arizona) Elementary School District Charles E. Peterson, Jr. MBA, PRSBA, SFO Immediate Past President Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO Director through 2020 Bill Sutter, SFO Director through 2020 Michael Johnston Director through 2019 Angela Von Essen Director through 2019 2019 Board of Directors WORKING TOGETHER to ma ke a difference Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO Vice President Susan Harkin Director through 2021 John Hutchison, CPA, SFO Director through 2021 David J. Lewis Executive Director