The Prime Minister failed to apply the Five Cs of communication

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Business is returning to normal after the summer holidays, I trust everyone who reads this blog had an enjoyable break. There are certainly plenty of things going on around us to grab our attention and I include in the current ruckus involving our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

I have no intention in entering any kind of political commentary rather I want to draw leadership lessons from what has transpired since Australia Day particularly as it relates to the need for leaders to be highly effective communicators because it would seem in the Prime Minister’s case what we have is a failure to communicate.

In this instance never was the adage “True communication is the response I get” more correct. As a leader he cannot hold anyone else responsible for what was communicated and how it was communicated and the responses from the wider Australian population. If we consider what he did in communicating as the nation’s leader he fell well short in apply the five Cs of communication.

  • Cause and Effect. Whenever a leader communicates anything they must consider what the message will cause people to do and as a result what the effect will be. There seems to have been little application of ‘cause and effect’ thinking.
  • Consultation. If the media reports are to be believed it would seem that he did not consult widely. Wider consultation increases decision effectiveness.
  • Co-ordinate. Once the message was agreed it seems its dissemination was poorly co-ordinated; in fact, it appears some key people were not even aware the honour had been bestowed until it was reported in the media.
  • Check what meaning is being assigned to the message. Who was monitoring reaction from the wider Australian population apart from the media? The intended meaning is determined by the sender, however the real meaning is assigned by the receiver. Who was checking how key groups were responding?
  • Correct or adjust. When it was clear that the message was not being viewed favourably, reaction time was slow.

As leaders this situation can befall anyone of us. For me what happened to Tony Abbott was timely reminder to stop and question, how well am I applying the 5 Cs of communication and am I getting the true response I want? I trust that you will do the same.

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