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Communication is key to being an effective leader. As leaders, we must communicate clearly and effectively with our team members, peers, superiors, and stakeholders to be successful. It’s the way we get our message across to our followers. It’s the way we motivate them, inspire them, and influence them. How we communicate sets the tone of our leadership, which in turn sets the tone for our followers.
Leaders who are not good communicators will have a challenging time motivating others and getting stakeholders on board with their ideas or plans. In short, without effective communication skills as a leader, there is no effective leadership.
Before discussing the communication competencies required for leaders, we should understand the functionality of effective communication leadership skills: for what purposes do leaders (and organizations) communicate?
As leaders, we must communicate effectively to ensure that our people are following the organisation’s rules, processes, and procedures.
Leaders must have excellent communication skills to provide information to employees, managers, external parties, and other stakeholders. We must keep our people updated with strategy, new processes, organizational goals, etc. Without this information communicated effectively, our organization will function less efficiently.
Leaders who communicate well with their peers and employees are more likely to have good relationships in the workplace. We must provide effective feedback to provide positive reinforcement, motivate our people, and improve their performance. This includes setting clear expectations for individuals and teams.
Communication is a powerful tool that we can use to create empathy, understanding, growth, and connection. As leaders, we must also understand the power of communication to express emotions, as employees voice dissatisfaction and satisfaction. We should also be careful to communicate impartially, removing our own emotions appropriately to manage conflict effectively.
To achieve the four objectives of communication, we must identify and develop the key communication competencies required for leaders, which includes both verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
As leaders, we must be mindful of our audience and the situation in which we find ourselves and then adapt our communication style accordingly. This will help us to convey ideas in a way that is easy for others to understand, by using plain language and avoiding jargon and technical terms that our audience may not know.
Clarity and conciseness are two of the most important qualities of effective communication. They are also the qualities that many leaders and managers struggle with the most.
We must ensure that our messaging ─ be it verbal, written, or otherwise ─ is clear, specific, and easy to understand. It must be unambiguous. We should also strive to keep our communication on point and concise ─ fewer words is usually more effective.
We are in constant communication with our team, whether it is through emails or face-to-face conversations. It’s crucial that we understand how our people think and feel so that we can see things from different perspectives and communicate empathetically. Not only will this help our messages to be met more positively, but it will also help us to make better decisions for our people and our organizations.
The goal of leadership communication is rarely to tell but to elicit a response and understand, and then to inspire and motivate the actions we wish people to take. Therefore, we should be good at asking open-ended questions that require more than a ‘yes or no’ reply. This is how we can encourage more thoughtful answers, which enables us to provide more clarity when needed.
Body language is a key component of effective communication. Positive body language can help us set the tone for a conversation, establish rapport with another person, and influence how they feel about themselves or our organizsation.
Active listening is the most important skill of any good leader. We must demonstrate that we care for our employees by asking for their opinions, ideas, and feedback. We should then focus on listening, without interrupting.
When we do this, we find that those we are conversing with will be more open to answering our questions to help our understanding of their perspectives.
The most successful leaders know how to give and receive feedback respectfully and constructively. They know that it’s not about them, but about the person they are giving feedback to. Leaders who can’t accept constructive criticism will never grow or develop their wider leadership skills. A word of warning, though ─ when receiving feedback, we must act on it or our desire for feedback will appear unauthentic and we risk losing the trust and confidence of our followers.
Communication skills are the most important aspect of effectiveness as a leader. To be influential as a leader, we must be empathetic, listen intently to our people, and communicate with clarity. It is crucial that we are always mindful of our body language, and that we use questions to encourage the exchange of emotions and ideas.
Are you equipped to lead effectively? When was the last time you assessed your communication skills? To learn how our Leadership Circle™ Impact Program delivers the skills you need to be a more impactful and influential leader, click here.
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