Leaders Communicating Down-Line

Team_Leadership_Michael_H_Smith On a recent volunteer assignment I was reminded of the importance for leaders to communicate down-line.

One of the fundraising activities for my son’s marching band is that the parents get the privilege of helping park cars at the county fair. I was given specific instructions and expectations for the post where I was assigned. All seemed to be going well until a group of people showed up to my lot who did not meet the criteria to allow them to enter. That is until they said a leader at the fair had given them “special permission” to do so. This was directly against the instructions that we had been given. Of course we let them in, but there were a few moments of awkwardness and uneasiness as I tried to carry out what was expected of me.

In many circumstances leaders have the authority to make exceptions to rules or guidelines, especially when exceptions are in line with core values and help meet established goals. However it is imperative that any changes are communicated to all whom will be affected.  To communicate effectively the leader must try to predict all who will be affected by any decision and let them know.

In the situation mentioned above a ‘heads-up’ communication from the leader to the team would have avoided the awkward situation and made the experience for both the volunteer and the guest more enjoyable.  As a leader I can avoid awkward situations if I communicate in all directions to everyone who could possibly be affected by decisions I make.