Leadership requires many skills and one that I personally have to remind myself to use on a regular basis is restraint. As a Leader in an organization, you are often privy to details, information and strategy that are not being communicated widely or that have different approaches for different teams. Maintaining control over what information is shared, how it is shared and what information is withheld can be very important to corporate culture, team motivation and ultimate success.
I know that I aim for complete transparency amongst my own team so that I will discuss any topic in an open and honest way. Too often, in replaying these scenarios in my mind, I find important information conveyed to individual contributors before their managers or conveyed to only part of the team who needs to be aware. This would be highly more effective if restraint was used and a proper communication channel was thought through. It is a process I am constantly reminding myself to take control of.
On a different scale, restraint can be very useful in managing non-verbal communications such as email. The pace today can easily showcase flurries of email exchanges on a multitude of topics, some of which would be best served by having a more delayed and yet thoughtful response. The same communication questions we should be asking for face-to-face information exchanges are a bit more obvious in an email context: who should this message go to? who should be copied in this conversation? when should this message be sent? who should this message be from? These are all key questions, that only through enacting a level of restraint can we take the time to consider appropriately.
Restraint is a skill that takes time to hone but for any Leader who can put it into practice, it is a testament to organizational communication and can improve employee focus and productivity.