leadership and communication skills

About the author : Valerie Dansereau

Effective leaders need the ability to communicate clearly and to inspire and motivate those around them. If your communication skills aren’t getting the results you want, there’s work to be done. Poor communication can lead to confused or frustrated employees, wasted time, and subpar productivity. If you don’t recognize when improvement is needed, you may lose credibility as a leader. Leadership and communication skills aren’t necessarily something you’re born with, and the most successful leaders are always open to opportunities to improve these skills.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Whether you’re participating in a discussion with other leaders, putting on a presentation, or leading a meeting with your own team, the more thoroughly you prepare ahead of time, the more likely you’ll be able to communicate clearly and have an impact on others. Whether your message is written or verbal, know the purpose of your communication and take the time to plan ahead to make sure you say what you mean to say.

Adapt to the Audience and the Situation

The way you present information often has to be adapted to the audience and the situation. Certain skills are needed when having difficult conversations such as a disappointing employee performance review or mediating conflict between two employees. Completely different skills are needed when interviewing candidates, explaining job duties to new employees, meeting with other managers, or speaking to customers.

In some situations, injecting humor or anecdotes can help to lighten the mood and captivate attention. In other situations, you need to focus on communicating with clarity and authority. When the things you’re communicating are tailored to your audience, there’s a better chance your message will be heard and understood.

Become a Better Listener

Communication is a two-way street. One of the biggest aspects of improving leadership and communication skills is to work on being a better listener. Let the staff know your door is open and you’re genuinely interested in their concerns and challenges. When someone approaches you with a concern or a conflict, give them your undivided attention.

Active listening is a skill that involves being fully present when you’re having a conversation. Communicate to the other person that you’re listening by making eye contact, asking questions, and repeating back to them what you’re understanding based on what they’re saying. This gives them an opportunity to correct you if there have been any misunderstandings. Listening skills aren’t always as easy to master as people may think, and most people benefit from working on this skill.

Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is an important part of the way people communicate and people often give off signals that differ from the words they’re saying. This includes tone of voice, facial expression, and body language. Pay attention to subtle cues people are giving you. At the same time, work on being self-aware and noticing what signals you might be sending to others with your posture, facial expression, and tone of voice.

Be Open to Feedback

The best way to improve leadership and communication skills is to ask for feedback from trusted colleagues. Ask if your message is coming across clearly. Do you typically speak too loudly or too softly? Do they feel that you tend to ramble or stay on topic? There’s always room for improvement when it comes to communication skills, and feedback from others can help you to identify what areas could use some improvement.

Besides asking for feedback from others, take advantage of opportunities to learn new leadership and communication skills through classes and webinars. Practice these skills whenever you can.

Reach out to Peaceful Leaders Academy to learn about opportunities for leadership training.

About the author : Valerie Dansereau