Communication skills are vital for effective leadership. When you’re in a leadership role, you need to be able to motivate and inspire your team and you also need to be able to communicate with clarity and persuasion whether you’re interacting with employees, clients or other leaders.
When communication isn’t clear, productivity may be reduced, morale may be low and credibility may be lost. It’s not uncommon for people to think that communication skills come naturally, but many communication skills can be learned or sharpened. No matter how well a leader communicates, there’s always room for improving leadership communication skills.
Regardless of who you’re communicating with, an important part of effective communication is being focused on the conversation. Put your cell phone away and put your business phone on “do not disturb.” The person you’re talking to wants to feel heard and know you’re fully present. You’ll get much more out of a conversation when you’re completely engaged and you’re much more likely to gain the trust and confidence of the other person.
Adapt Your Communication Style to Your Audience
Your word choice and communication style may vary from one person to the next, so it’s important to know your audience. Your demeanor may not be exactly the same talking to employees as it is when talking to clients. Part of improving leadership communication skills includes adapting your communication style based on who you’re talking to.
Consider whether your audience is highly experienced or brand new to the topic. Another thing to consider is the best method of communication. Can you get your point across most effectively in person, over the phone or through email?
Practice Active Listening
Listening is a very important part of all communication. Poor listening skills can put roadblocks in the path of productive communication. Failing to listen to the ideas and concerns of others makes it less likely that you’ll earn trust and respect.
Effective leaders understand that it’s important to pay attention to the words people say and also to pay attention to their body language and facial expressions. Active listening means listening closely and reinforcing what you hear by taking notes and asking questions to help eliminate any confusion. Repeat back what’s been said to give the other person a chance to add more information or clear up any misunderstanding.
Prepare What Needs to Be Said
Don’t assume if you’re putting on a presentation or leading a meeting that you’ll automatically remember what needs to be said. Get in the habit of being thoroughly prepared for every interaction with others. Invest time and energy preparing ahead of time what needs to be communicated. Know what you want to achieve and stay on topic. Not being prepared increases the risk that you may not say what you mean to say and you might say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Preparing ahead of time is also important when having one-on-one conversations. If you have to give negative feedback, be prepared to say what needs to be said but also what possible responses or objections might come up.
The most effective leaders are those who recognize that there’s always more to learn. Look for opportunities to learn more on improving leadership communication skills whenever you can. Read books and articles on the topic, watch videos and participate in classes and webinars. Look for opportunities to practice new skills as you learn them. Welcome feedback from others on what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement.
Get in touch with Peaceful Leaders Academy for more information on available training and coaching.