Leadership Through Communication

Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

The art of effective communication can be hard to master.  I know I constantly worry, are my communications with staff, partners, and stakeholders clear and compelling?  Am I crafting and presenting my messages with clarity?  Am I being responsive and considerate of my audience?  Does my communication support the leadership role of my position and that of AASB?  I hope it does, but I am sure you will agree, we can always use a little help.

At the 2022 NSBA Advocacy Institute hosted in Washington D.C. recently, we heard from a “communications expert” about the discipline and structure of good communication.  They described the relationship between the art of good communication and its ability to support and project leadership. 

The season of communication leadership is upon us.  The next few months will be critical as we advocate for public education needs with our legislature, the Governor, our Congressional delegation, and most importantly, your communities and stakeholders.  There are some critical issues the legislature has the opportunity to address.  Your voices as locally elected school board members along with parents, community members, local businesses, and others will be crucial in advancing legislation to support and fund public education in Alaska.

Here are a few tips I heard this week that are a good foundation for creating messages that can help lead others to support our cause, educating Alaska’s students.

  • Start with your conclusion – from the very beginning, let your audience know the point of your message.
  • Highlight the facts – facts, supported by data and experience are your evidence for support
  • Flag key points – be concise but compelling by using key points for promoting your message
  • Repeat your most important facts and points – remember that adage that we remember the most when we hear or see things repeatedly?
  • Share your Story – create a message using your story that builds context and meaning for your audience.
  • Know when to stop – quantity is rarely quality.  Concise, simple, well-developed communications are usually those most easily remembered.

One tip was a glaring omission to me when I listened to this presentation, and that was cultural responsiveness.  Understand who you are communicating with so that the purpose of your message has meaning and relevance.  This is likely the most challenging part of structuring effective communication.

In the coming weeks, AASB, your students, and constituents will be relying on you to lead others to support public education.  We all will need to be confident in our message delivery.  We will need to be a dependable and steady source of information presenting a unified message.  We have a specific purpose, and we will need to make sure our audiences understand it.  And lastly, we need the integrity and honesty that builds respect and trust, even with those that may disagree.  Together, we can demonstrate leadership through communication and stand the best chance for creating positive support for Alaska public education using these simple tips and principles.

Most sincerely yours,

Lon Garrison

Executive Director, AASB