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The Communication Cycle

Updated on January 27, 2012

The Communication Cycle is THE Secret of Effective Leadership

If you want to be a highly effective leader one of the most important secrets you need to master is the thorough use of The Communication Cycle.

In this lens I will take you through the six steps of the cycle in detail. By mastering the 6 steps your rating as a leader will improve dramatically in any situation; in any organization whether it be government, business or education.

The six steps are:

Step 1. Aim - Who do you want to talk to and what do you want them to do?

Step 2. Compose - What is the best way to talk to your audience in order to get them to do what you want?

Step 3. Transmit - Where and when should you communicate in order to optimise your results?

Step 4. Feedback - Find out exactly what effect your communication created.

Step 5. Analyse/Learn/Change - Analyse and learn from the results your communication created.

Step 6. Improve - Change your behaviour as a result of what you have learned.

Now you know the basics of The Communication Cycle learn and study more in the articles below that give you more detailed information so that you become a highly effective communicator and thus a transformational leader.

If you are interested in coaching please contact me via my website

The Communication Cycle
The Communication Cycle

The Communication Cycle Step 1 - Aim

All successful leaders develop outstanding communication skills.

Jack Welch, when he retired from GE, was immediately able to launch a new career as an author and speaker. Certainly people wanted to hear what such a successful businessman had to say, but he wouldn't have lasted five minutes if he had not had the skill to express himself well.

Sadly, not everyone is a natural communicator. In fact research suggests that most people are somewhat poor when it comes to communicating.

It was to help clients with communications problems that I developed The Communication Cycle.

As soon as I started to use it in my transformational leadership programme noticeable improvements occurred in the relationships and effectiveness of the leaders I was coaching.

The leaders themselves were delighted with the effect that they were having on their colleagues and clients.

This is excellent proof that people can learn to improve their communication skills.

It's Essential To Start Well

As with baking a cake or running a sprint race it is essential to start well when you wish to communicate with another human being.

That is why the first module of The Communication Cycle is "Aim".

A really good communicator works his way through all 5 parts of the "Aim" module:

1. What thought, feeling or action do I want to result from my communication?

2. Who will receive my message? Will it be just one person or a group of people?

3. What motivates the recipient? What do they want, need or desire?

4. What will be the big benefit for them of doing what I want them to do?

5. What is the best medium by which to send this message? Should I phone, e-mail, meet or send a memo?

Each point on this list needs to be carefully considered.

The trick to improving your communications is to develop the habit and the discipline of using The Communication Cycle rigorously every time you communicate with a colleague of client.

The Communication Cycle
The Communication Cycle

The Communication Cycle Step 2 - Compose

Learn to Compose Your Communications for Maximum Effect

It is in this "composition" area that leaders usually experience the greatest difficulties. A combination of time restraints, a lack of consideration and a lack of awareness of the importance of composition all contribute to results not being as good as hoped for.

Good composition, like most other things in life, is a matter of know-how and practice. The more you do the sooner you develop good habits.

Start by developing a good vision of what you are seeking to achieve. Don't stop working on this stage until your vision makes you feel good and you seriously believe that it will make others also feel good.

Once you have your vision find some evidence, concrete facts, to support the picture you have created in your mind's eye.

Then check that what you are proposing to do is in line with corporate goals and visions.

When you start to compose what you are actually going to say or write try to think in the sort of language that the recipient(s) would normally use in their day to day conversations.

As you compose, get passionate about what you are planning to say or write. Emotion adds power to every word you say or write.

Wherever possible it is a good idea to write an executive summary which precis everything said. I usually write this at the end and then move it to the start of the document.

Always try to avoid "imperative" or "bossy" words like "must" and "essential". Such words tend to get people into defensive mode or to get their backs up. (Think how you react when others say such things to you.)

When you ask anyone to do something it always helps if you provide them with the necessary resources to do the job.

Finally, don't forget to set a reasonable time frame for completing the work.

The Communication Cycle
The Communication Cycle

The Communication Cycle Step 3 - Transmit

Not Your Favourite Method of Transmitting but The Recipients

In many ways transmitting your messages is the easiest part of the communication cycle to enact.

However there are pitfalls to be avoided and good practices that will help your communications to be more effective.

The first of these is timing. Is this the right time to say what you want to say to the person you want to say it to? Are they in the right mood or frame of mind for what I am about to say to them?

Have you chosen the best medium via which to communicate this particular message?

Once you have completed this phase of The Communication Cycle you will have made a real improvement in your communication style and you are well on your way to being a better leader.

The Communication Cycle
The Communication Cycle

The Communication Cycle Step 4 - Feedback

Find Out How Well You Communicated

From my experience as both a business executive and a transformational leadership coach I would say that feedback tends to make people feel nervous. We all worry about what others think of us. We don't want to expose ourselves to the censure or ire of others.

But, the only way to know for sure what your commuications achieve is to get some feedback.

Listen, no-one's perfect. We all make mistakes. It is easy to create situations that we did not intend to create. People hear things differently from the way we intended to hear them. These are all part of life's rich pattern.

If you want to be a good leader you must be prepared for feedback of all kinds. You must be prepared to learn from that feedback. And you must be prepared to change your ways as a result of what you learn.

So, in a spirit of learning, get out there and ask questions. Find out what really happened.

How did people feel when they got your message?

How did they react?

What did they actually do?

Did you get the reaction you wanted? And, if not, why not?

If you have to send out this message again what needs to be different in order to get the reaction you want?

The Communication Cycle
The Communication Cycle

The Communication Cycle Step 5 - Analyse and Learn

How to Make Good Use of Feedback

It is part of life that people will sometimes tell you what they think and feel and other times they won't tell you a darn thing, which can be frustrating!

You can only work with the information you have, so, based on what you've been told...

Ask yourself, "why did I get the response I got?" This questions should be asked whether the feedback was good or bad. You need to change anything that did not work and go on doing the things that did work. Most especially you should go on doing the things that have worked for you if this was the first time you tried them. How many times have you witnessed someone doing something that worked well and then never repeat it.

If your communication did not get the desired result what feeling or behaviour did you generate in the recipient that prevented them from doing what you wanted?

Then you have to work out what you could have done differently. This can be tricky. It's a good idea to involve others when you have not achieved a result you desired. Other people can often see things from a different perspective.

Sometimes things do not go according to plan through no fault of yours but because of something that the recipient did. Do NOT use this as an excuse for always blaming the recipient if things go awry. Find out where the problem lay.

Study the situation and make changes in your behaviour.

The Communication Cycle
The Communication Cycle

The Communication Cycle Step 6 - Improve

Knowledge Doesn't Change Anything Unless You Transform Your Behaviour

This is perhaps the hardest part of the entire communication cycle - making changes in your own behaviour.

But, if you're going to be an outstanding leader, and anyone can be an outstanding leader, you will almost certainly have to change the way you do things.

The first step is to make up your mind that you will make changes. That you will improve your performance. That you will train yourself to perform better in the future. That is easy to say; it is a lifetime's work to do.

Get help. Investigate training programmes, books, coaches and mentors who can help you. There's a lot of help out there. Make it your mission to continually and without end improve your personal performance.

Work with The Communication Cycle in the way I have outlined above and in no time you will become a truly transformational leader.

Good luck.

Business and Leadership Communication Books Available Today From Amazon

I only recommend books that I have personally read and found to be useful

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition

A bit heavy going in places but well worth the time to absorb some very useful leasons.

iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business
iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business

The unauthorised biography of Steve Jobs offers a great insight into the Apple leader's behaviours.


In this book Giuliani describes the time when he was transforming the New York public services. It is inspirational stuff from a highly effective leader.


Tell Us Your Ideas For Improving Communication

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a really well put together lens! I am just starting out but I found your lens not only has great info but it is also very well organized. The initial "map" and the color-coded boxes are a great way of visually summarizing too!

    • The Coaching Re profile imageAUTHOR

      The Coaching Re 

      7 years ago

      It is important to master communication skills in order to advance your career. It is also important to learn nlp techniques so that you can manage yourself in stressful situations.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fascinating stuff, thanks very much!

    • corteeze profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens. It is important for everyone to remember that effective communications begins with having both a plan and an effective process. Following these steps will make a big difference.


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