One of the worst defects of low leadership skills is poor communication. I’ve seen it a couple of times, nobody knows how the boss got the job as he seems unable to communicate his ideas coherently. Most of the time he seemed to be babbling - his speeches were full of trendy words and ideas but no substance; it took an enormous amount of effort on our behalf to understand what he wanted us to do. And obviously, sometimes we misunderstood and made mistakes. His shining point: he knew how to dress you down in front of everybody. Don’t be that boss.
You better understand (and quickly) how to deliver a message. Not only a better communicator will outshine you every time, but it will cause your organization to be erratic and mistrustful of your actions. It can help your subordinates set you up for failure and it will certainly make you a joke around the office.
I was reading a very good article on the MIT Management Review about how subordinates may be setting you up to fail. The article centers (among other things) in how perception plays a key role in how your actions, inactions and communications are received by your team. Although you cannot take responsibility of how people will understand your message, you better make sure your delivery is appropriate.
One of my mentors at Booz Allen gave me a maxim that I took to heart. Communications has two parts:
1) Message – what you are trying to say
2) Delivery – how you present your ideas
Delivery is how you may shape the perception of everyone who is receiving your message. Delivery could be short and sweet, floral and effervescent, somber and full of protocol. How you shape your delivery will not only help the audience receive the message, but get the right context for the message. Don’t tell the group that the company is restructuring while your face is smiling (I’ve seen this), or say you are focusing on indicators while doing nothing to get them (your actions are part of your delivery).
My recommendation is that you be the boss that means what he says and says what he means. Let your message and actions be coherent – in times of uncertainty make your message crystal clear.