Why Is Communication an Important Leadership Skill?
Effective communication skills are crucial for leaders, who must be able to communicate vision, thoughts, and ideas to others with clarity and detail, which can help with decision-making. Communication skills can also help with conflict resolution, as well as empowering influence with employees, clients, and other stakeholders.
Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstanding, confusion, conflict, and mistrust. It can damage productivity, harm customer satisfaction, and even decrease brand value (remember Gerald Ratner’s ‘prawn sandwich’ comment, in 1991, that wiped £500 million off the value of the company?).
In this article, we look at the first step in how to improve communication skills as a leader.
Communication tips for leaders: Know your communication style
To strategise how to improve leadership communication skills, leaders must first understand their communication style. There are various assessments and diagnostics that we use when we assist leaders and managers on their personalised journeys of discovery. Such tools and techniques are designed to inform leaders with specific needs, equipping them with greater levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
EQ-i 2.0: The Model of Emotional Intelligence
This model measures emotional intelligence across 15 competencies in five composites:
- Decision making
- Stress management
By assessing and scoring each competency, it is then possible to create a development plan to deliver effective change, improving self-awareness and providing the building blocks to communicate more deliberately and positively.
You can view a sample EQ-i 2.0 report here.
The Ladder of Inference
How do you move from thought to action? Often, we give this process little thought. It happens naturally ─ and, of course, communicating is an action.
The Ladder of Inference (source: Chris Argyris and Peter Senge) is a description of how we think. Understanding this can help a leader to analyse data successfully, challenge false conclusions drawn by others, communicate constructively, and make more effective decisions.
The Ladder of Inference takes you through seven steps:
- Reality and facts ─ the data available to you.
- Select which of these you use based on previous experience and existing beliefs.
- Interpret what they mean.
- Create assumptions.
- Make conclusions based on your interpretation of facts and your assumptions.
- Develop beliefs because of these conclusions.
- Act upon these beliefs.
Using this model, a leader can challenge their own beliefs, assumptions, and the data and facts used. This helps leaders to remain objective, remove unconscious bias from their decision-making, and come to collective conclusions free from conflict.
A DiSC profile assessment provides an insight into a person’s four major behavioural tendencies:
- Dominance, and how you respond to problems and challenges
- Influence, and how you can influence others to your point of view
- Steadiness, and how you respond to the pace of the environment
- Conscientiousness, and how you respond to rules and procedures set by others
Understanding self in this depth helps a leader to be more effective, by developing strategies to act and communicate more appropriately according to the environment in which they find themselves.
You can view a sample DiSC report here.
How to improve leadership communication skills ─ Take the first step
Great leaders communicate well with their colleagues and know themselves well enough to understand their communication style and how it can be improved.
Self-awareness is a key element in improving one’s leadership skills. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses can help a leader figure out their style of communication and how they interact with others.
Emotional intelligence is another important part of improving leadership communication skills. It helps leaders understand the emotions of their colleaguesas well as themselves, which in turn makes it easier for them to communicate effectively with those colleagues.
Understanding how they run from fact to action helps a leader to be more deliberate and objective in how they communicate with others, removing bias and mitigating the potential for conflict.
When helping leaders and managers to develop strategies to communicate more effectively, our starting point is always to help the individual to understand themselves better. We use the most appropriate tools as well as bespoke content depending on learning needs analysis, the leader’s role, experience, and development stage.
Primeast's team of facilitators and coaches are accredited in the world's leading tools and assessments which ensures we can select the right tools for the specific situation or development need. Because one size doesn't fit all.
To learn more, or to discuss your organisation’s unique needs, Primeast today.