Be courageous. Courage is critical in your role because it helps build trust. Your leaders need to know that you will not shy away from conversations that they need to have, because you’re afraid. If you need to build your courage, start small. Do something today that’s just a little bit courageous.
Be curious. Curiosity is important because you can’t give good advice if you don’t completely understand the issue, the perspectives or the obstacles. You need to come from the perspective that your leaders are creative and resourceful and already have the answers. Your job is to be curious. Make sure your questions are open-ended, not a yes or no answer. Make sure you don’t lead. Ask 3 questions before giving an opinion. You’ll have more influence if you’re the person who helps people come up with the best answers they can stand behind.
Point out the possibilities. You must try to be the instigator of what’s possible. This can be accomplished by having an open mind, consistently asking what else? And wondering if there wasn’t anything in the way, what would be possible? Possibility is not a skill, it’s a choice.
Be knowledgeable. You may know most of what there is to know about communication, and that’s great. But if you can’t apply those skills to the business, you won’t be influential. You need to know what the corporate objectives are and how communication can help reach them. Easy ways to build your knowledge include knowing your gaps and making a list to fill them, reading what the boss is reading, getting curious and listening better.
Listen. We have an amazing capacity for taking in information faster than it’s tossed at us, yet most people are terrible listeners. Many people are thinking about how they’re going to respond to what’s being said and never hear what’s being said. You can’t advise effectively if you don’t listen. Some pointers for increasing your listening are to clarify what you think you’ve heard by bottom-lining it or putting it “in a nutshell”.