The Leader’s Responsibility to Inform

In my 40 years working to improve organizational effectiveness, too often communication comes up as a challenge and limiting factor. This week, I had a specific situation with a leader distressed over her team’s poor performance. She lamented that other teams within the organization seemed indifferent to her team’s needs, she wasn’t getting the information and help she needed. The conversation took an unexpected turn when I asked her “why do you let this happen?” She was surprised that, in my opinion, the responsibility to bridge these informational gaps fell squarely on her shoulders as a leader.

The Linking Pin: Leadership as a Communication Bridge

Leadership isn’t just about setting directions or marshalling resources; a major responsibility is all about connecting people—acting as the ‘linking pin’ in an organization. Effective leaders ensure that their teams are not isolated islands but part of a greater story, connected by the continuous flow of information in and out of their team. They proactively work to create and maintain multiple lanes of communication that are not just open but also meaningful such that communication achieves its two key purposes:

  1. Informs and drives the work of their team
  2. Builds engagement to the company; it’s purpose, vision and overall challenge and opportunities.

Proactivity in Leadership Communication

The first consideration is that the leader must accept responsibility for the fact that they are accountable for how well their team is informed. It’s not enough for leaders to react to communication breakdowns as they occur; they must actively work to anticipate and prevent them. This proactive approach in building and maintaining communication channels not only enhances team cohesion but also secures alignment and prepares the team to face organizational challenges more effectively.

This is a two-way street. A leader must know, map, assess and improve all the sources of communication into their team, but they must also consider all the people in their team, department, company and community that are “communication customers” of the information they create and are responsible to spread. Both need to be proactively managed.

Assessment of Effective Communication

  1. Usefulness and Relevance: Every piece of communicated information should serve a purpose and be relevant to the recipient. A leader must filter and tailor the information to ensure that it adds value to the team members and aligns with their immediate needs and long-term goals.
  2. Accuracy and Timeliness: Information must not only be accurate—free from errors and misrepresentations—but also timely. Delayed information can be as detrimental as wrong information. Leaders must establish protocols to ensure that updates are regular and timely, preventing the buildup of information silos.
  3. Adult Tone and Professionalism: The tone of communication should be respectful and mature, reflecting professionalism and the mutual respect that should permeate all levels of an organization. Condescension or overly casual communications can undermine respect and clarity.

The leadership of effective communication is not just about passing information back and forth. It’s about ensuring purposeful action and commitment to the organization’s purpose.

Leaders should see themselves as the architects of communication flows within their team and organization. They are responsible for making sure that communication channels are not only open but also effective—continuous, meaningful, clear, and supportive of their team’s and company’s goals. This is not a passive, administrative task but an active and crucial responsibility that drives the success of their teams. A well-informed team led by a proactive leader is often a successful one. Good communication builds understanding and coordination, essential for achieving collective goals. Remember, the true measure of leadership is not just the ability to direct but to connect—ensuring that all team members are ready to act decisively and effectively.

About the Author

Paul Doyle
Paul Doyle is the founder of LeaderWork. He brings more than 35 years of diverse business experience, including 15 years as a CEO, leading manufacturing companies. Paul has been active in North America with companies ranging from $20 million to $450 million in revenue.