Whose role is it?

Whose job is it to role-model clear, consistent, dependable, honest communication? Yours or your manager’s?

No matter your level, it’s absolutely your role to be the best communicator you can be. That includes learning what is important to your manager, listening for clues to what they value, what they may be dealing with, if they keep things close to their vest.

If you don’t know what is important to your manager, try asking: What is one thing I could do to communicate better with you?

Ask that of your peers, direct reports, internal and external customers, too, because being the best communicator you can be is vital to your growth. And the only one who can work on it is you.

Start by focusing on being a better listener to expand your awareness. The more you know, the more able you will be to make good decisions consistently.

Over the years, I have found communication with their manager to be a big frustration for some leaders. Their manager had a different style, different needs, different priorities. Some were too distant, others micro-managed. Whatever the frustration, don’t let someone else’s behavior keep you from being your best.

Be a role model for what you want your manager to do. It is incumbent on you to take the high road. Try different approaches to see what works. They may approach their role differently than you would. View it as a learning experience. Don’t fall into the trap of gossiping about your manager.

Patricia wanted to make her manager more aware of what she and her team did, so she emailed him updates with what they accomplished, what they were working on, a key learning and a commitment to what was coming next. Many months later, she learned that her manager often passed her messages on to his leader and peers as an easy way to keep them in the loop. Her reputation as a good communicator spread, leading to a broader, higher level network. That unexpected benefit boosted her confidence, shifted her perspective and opened possibilities for future roles she had not previously considered.

You have a choice every day. Continue to work on communicating in ways that make you a positive role model and there will be no stopping you in your growth as a leader.

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