Leadership / Communication

Leadership Moment — 23 Nov 22

Two-way communication.

Mark McMillion
2 min readNov 23, 2022


Photo courtesy of Erica Fischer via Flickr. CC 2.0

Our school’s football coaches are always looking for opportunities to both build community and to raise money for the team. Yesterday, one of the coaches texted the players to meet this morning. They were going to help the local festival move some of their stuff and in return the festival would donate a little something-something to the team.

My sons received the text, told us, and we planned on making it happen. At 9:45 this morning, I had them at the right place but no one was there. None of the players had responded to the coach’s text message and he assumed that meant no one would be there. He notified the festival people they couldn’t do it today. He didn’t send another text to the team updating the status.

Time and time again I see these kinds of failures in communication. Leaders assume a message sent is a message received and understood. People assume that silence means consent. In this case, my boys didn’t acknowledge the text but planned on being there. The coach assumed no response meant no participation (he did not specify for people to respond). Finally, the situation changed and following the coach’s assumption, he didn’t update anyone.

Missed opportunity for the boys to build some community. Missed opportunity for the team to gain a little cheddar.

It’s critical for leaders to ensure their message is heard and understood. Thinking good thoughts isn’t enough and you need to specify your intentions.

In my leadership work, I do a great exercise to help people understand first, communication is hard, and second, how focusing on two-way communication creates mutual understanding and better execution. We also discuss the underlying reasons two-way communication is necessary such as different backgrounds, experiences, cultures, personalities, etc.

We talk and write all day, every day. Yet, miscommunication is a way of life. For great leaders, better communication becomes a competitive advantage in better execution.

That was my leadership moment today.



Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.