As a leader, you have so many responsibilities. Many of them are tied to performance, including revenue, value creation, brand, and reputation in the marketplace.

Some are social responsibilities, such as ethics, fair trade, and philanthropy. Still others are humanitarian responsibilities, such as safety, fair treatment, and non-bias.

Somewhere in the center of all of these responsibilities is an overlap, a sweet spot, a place where you are expected to communicate responsibly.

What is responsible communication?

Responsible communication in leadership is the practice of ensuring your team has a clear understanding of necessary information in a timely manner, while also actively listening and practicing empathy to cultivate a business environment with open, effective, and respectful communication.

Focus on the following aspects of responsible communication to improve your leadership skills:

Communicate timely

Your team has a right to receive information as it is needed to perform their duties, to reach their full potential, to feel secure, and to keep them well informed.

Communicate without bias

Bias is an assertion without proof. As a leader, you make assumptions that can lead to conclusions without foundation. In responsible communication, it is important to put aside your own bias (yes, we all have bias) and to communicate as if all persons are equal without prejudice or discrimination. Check your messages to be sure you are sharing information without judgment.

Be present when communicating

With so much to do and such limited time to do it, it is common to constantly be trying to multi-task.

Avoid giving unwanted advice

Just because you can see areas for change or improvement, or because you have advice to offer others, does not mean your advice will be welcome. This is particularly true if it relates to personal preferences of others. If you are asked for advice, be willing to give it. If you are not, be cautious in offering advice if you are not certain it will be expected or welcome.

Communicate with empathy

No two persons have exactly the same perspective on anything. Being able to see the perspectives of others, whether or not you agree with them, is exercising your skill in empathy. Communicating with empathy has a valuable side effect in that it tends to contribute to influence and motivation. People tend to respond best and most agreeably when they believe you understand them or their situation.

Maintain confidentiality

Breach of confidentiality will destroy trust and therefore destroy relationships. It can result in other serious consequences, including legal action, but that is not the reason for you to keep confidences. As a leader, you have a responsibility to all persons to respect their fundamental right to privacy. Any information that is not your own should be kept between you and the person that shared it with you unless expressly given permission to share.

Avoid technical jargon

Technical jargon is the language or vocabulary specific to a peculiar trade, profession, or group. It often includes technical short phrases and acronyms. It is not only challenging for anyone who does not know your industry, your system, or your situation, but can be just plain rude when sending a message and construed that you are hiding meaning and information in plain sight.

Be sincere

Sincerity cannot be faked. Lack of sincerity sends a message of false information or intent. If the message is valid and valuable, then it should be delivered with sincerity.


Communication is not just “sending” but “receiving” information and, in the most complete loop, includes “clarifying.” Take the time to listen when communicating. Listen for verbal and non-verbal cues that the message has been received as intended.

Improve Your Leadership Skills

Communication is a key leadership skill. Communicating responsibly is a leadership skill well refined.

It takes consistent practice, awareness, and sincerity to improve the way you lead your team, set expectations, and cultivate open, honest communication. It starts with you!

Be committed to your role as a leader. Communicate effectively and responsibly.