How do I effectively communicate with my leadership-level peers?
Always plan your communication; never wing it. Planning helps you be purposeful and increase your chances of achieving the results you seek. Take five minutes to plan your message with a few simple steps. First: Determine your high-level business outcome. Next: Consider your audience and where they're coming from. The more you know about someone, the better you can influence them and move them to action. Then: Choose the right method to communicate. I recommend face-to-face or voice-to-voice when possible because you get immediate feedback. Finally: Know what you'll do if your time is cut short. If you have half an hour for your meeting, be ready to present in 15 or even 5 minutes.
Sometimes send a fact sheet in advance of an important conversation, especially when detailed information is critical to making an informed decision. This is especially important for CEOs who make decisions based more on facts than feelings. Also, there are times when an outside perspective is valuable to build your case. Often a consultant can deliver a tough message more easily.
Never make things up. The higher you get in an organization, the more you need truth tellers around you, and the fewer there are. There's great power and credibility in honesty. And never delay, holding out for absolutely all the information--especially when delivering bad news. By then it will be too late. Someone is going to fill the communication vacuum with their messaging instead of yours, and you'll be on the defensive.
David Grossman is CEO of The Grossman Group, a strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy.