Communication is an important aspect of leadership. If a leader doesn’t have good communication skills and struggles to get their point across to the team, the company won’t perform as well as it potentially can. Communication is especially important in modern workspaces as employees now expect to have a good working rapport with those at the helm.
Leaders with poor communication skills often appear aloof and distant. They are unable to connect with their team, explain goals and ideas well, and often don’t know how to reprimand or correct their team members appropriately either. That has an impact on the team’s overall morale and performance.
Successful leaders like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and even Steve Jobs in the past, have excellent communication skills. They’re able to convey their ideas and goals to the team in a concise and effective manner, which improves the overall productivity of the team. This article discusses how other leaders can develop similar communication skills:
- Be self-aware
Great communication doesn’t just involve knowing what to say, it also involves knowing what not to say. Workplace environments are often stressful and it’s easy for leaders (as well as their subordinates) to develop a bad mood or become frustrated. Being self-aware ensures people don’t say things in the heat of the moment and vent their frustration out on employees.
It also helps leaders align their communication with their goals. For example, experienced leaders will use different tones and vocabulary when they’re attempting to explain their ideas to a team of new employees than they would with a team of older ones.
- Be aware of who you’re communicating with
As mentioned in the previous point, leaders tailor their communication based on their audience. This is an important aspect of communication as well. Understanding the audience allows leaders to determine which form and style of communication would be best for the given situation.
Leaders need to develop the ability to read nonverbal cues and alter their communication accordingly. For example, if a person’s eyes aren’t focused on you and are always drifting away, they might be bored and you need to develop a different strategy. Pay attention to expression, hand gestures, body posture, eye-contact, and other such factors to understand if the audience is engaged in the conversation.
This can have a big impact on personal communication skills. Becoming aware of the other person’s body language can also help improve personal body language and can make the leader seem more trustworthy and confident.
Communication is a two-way interaction so it involves listening to others when they voice their opinions and concerns. Surprisingly, this is one of the most difficult aspects of mastering communication skills because people are always in a hurry to explain their point and offer their opinion. Listening to others requires patience and focus, which many struggle to obtain.
Listening to others can help improve communications skills by a considerable margin. This helps leaders understand what people are trying to say and respond thoughtfully. It’s easier to dismiss ideas and recommendations if you’ve not paid attention to them, but listening ensures you don’t let good ideas slip by or make others feel irrelevant.
- Be brief, clear, and specific
Conversations are more interesting if they’re not filled with irrelevant small-talk and fillers; these have their place and are more suitable for casual and informal situations. Work-related communications with team members should always be clear, precise, specific, and brief. This ensures the team understands what the leader is trying to say and reduces room for error.
This is applicable to both written and verbal communication and can help the team perform more efficiently. When leaders provide instructions to the team or explain their goals, they should keep them simple, specific, and actionable. This gives the team clear direction and they don’t have to spend time trying to figure out what their leader wants.
- Develop empathy
People are more likely to trust and be open to empathic leaders and managers; this helps maintain a two-way street. Team members and employees will be more hesitant to speak with leaders that lack empathy or appear aloof. This can lead to further miscommunication, poor time and resource management, and even lack of trust and loyalty.
Empathetic leaders inspire loyalty and that encourages team members to work harder for the benefit of the company. This doesn’t just improve the overall productivity of the team but also has an impact on the morale of the team.
- Focus on the conversation and remove distractions
No one can communicate effectively if they’re focused on their phone, distracted by social media, or even reading something else. If you’re distracted, it’s easy to miss important parts of the conversation and misunderstand. It’s important to maintain eye contact, respond using verbal and nonverbal cues, and show others you’re listening. This encourages people to open up and speak more freely.
Being distracted or not focusing on the person speaking, can alienate the audience, which can have an impact on business relationships. Keep your phone on silent when engaged in serious conversations and step away from the computer. This will ensure you are focused on the speaker.
- Always keep track of the purpose of the conversation
Some people go off on a tangent and start talking about other topics in the middle of a conversation. It’s not difficult to lose track of the purpose of the conversation and that can alienate the audience. Focus on the purpose and goal to ensure your conversation remains on track at all times. This is applicable to both verbal and written communication.
Leaders who focus on the ‘why’ behind a conversation always sound more focused, articulate, and confident. That can increase the audience’s trust and confidence in them, and influence the success of the company.
Developing good communication skills is all about practice, awareness, and commitment. Eventually, these come naturally and start to have a positive impact on both your professional and personal life.
Ashley Andrews is an Inbound Marketing Strategist at Activia Training, a UK-based training provider specialising in improving delegates’ workplace performance in business skills, management development and IT applications. Ashley is passionate about sales and management issues, and regularly blogs about these – and many other topics – on the Activiablog.