Silent Damage: How Lack of Leadership Communication Undermines Team Success

How do you recognize you’re in the presence of a bad leader? Bad leaders are everywhere. One way to identify them is by their poor communication skills. For example, they are failing to update the team on important information, being unavailable or hard to reach.

I recently had lunch with a friend who is a Human Resources Manager at a call center. She told me about her experience working there, and how she’s looking for another employer because she feels stuck where she is. Oh, and she doesn’t trust her boss; the Operations Manager.

The reason?

Poor communication. She described how he’s hard to reach because he hides in his office every day, has minimal interaction with the team, changes things at the last moment, and doesn’t update the team on important information.

As she was speaking, I thought to myself: that’s a bad leader.

How poor communication by leaders impacts teams and organizations

Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful leadership. Poor communication skills, particularly those related to keeping the team updated or being unavailable, can have widespread negative impacts on teams and organizations. Let’s delve deeper into this topic:

  • Decreased morale and trust: Trust is the foundation of leadership. When team members feel out of the loop or perceive that they are not being told important information, it can breed feelings of mistrust and alienation. Over time, this erodes the bond between leadership and the team, leading to decreased morale and commitment.
  • Increased uncertainty and stress: Lack of clarity or understanding about company direction, project status, or individual roles can create uncertainty. This uncertainty can lead to stress, as team members may feel insecure about their positions or unclear about their tasks.
  • Reduced productivity: Without clear communication, team members might be unsure about their roles, leading to duplication of efforts or tasks being overlooked entirely. Time may be wasted waiting for clarifications, which can delay project timelines.
  • Decreased quality of work: Misunderstandings stemming from poor communication can result in mistakes. When team members aren’t fully informed, the quality of their work can suffer, leading to errors that might be costly to correct.
  • Loss of opportunities: Being unavailable or hard to reach can mean missing out on vital feedback, innovative ideas, or urgent issues that need addressing. Such missed opportunities can hinder growth and performance.
  • Higher turnover rates: Feeling undervalued or constantly out of the loop can lead to dissatisfaction. Over time, this can result in higher turnover rates, with employees seeking workplaces where they feel better informed and valued.
  • Poor decision-making: Decisions made without all the necessary information, or based on misunderstood information, can be detrimental to the organization. This can lead to strategic missteps or missed opportunities.
  • Ineffective crisis management: In times of crisis, swift and clear communication is crucial. A leader who fails to communicate effectively during these times can exacerbate problems, leading to panic, confusion, and a lack of coordinated response.
  • Creates silos: Poor communication often results in teams or departments becoming siloed. This means they work independently and lack collaboration, which can lead to a disjointed organizational approach and missed synergistic opportunities.
  • Damaged reputation: External stakeholders, such as clients, partners, and customers, value transparent and timely communication. Failing in this regard can damage the organization’s reputation, leading to loss of business or strained relationships.

Bottom line: While communication might seem like a basic skill, its importance cannot be overstated. Effective communication is the lifeline of an organization, ensuring that all members are aligned, informed, and working cohesively towards common goals. Poor communication disrupts this harmony, leading to a myriad of problems that can have lasting impacts on the organization’s success and sustainability.