Effective Communication Skills for High Performing Leaders
Effective communication is a vital tool of an effective leader. It is critical for the success of your company. It can help promote a good working relationship between you and your team which will improve efficiency and productivity1. Inadequate communication can also come at a high cost2.
Good communication is what allows leaders to mobilize their teams around a common goal, build confidence, empower employees, and successfully navigate organizational change3.
Importance of Communication in Leadership
A leader is someone who sets goals for the team, encouraging them to work positively and enthusiastically. Communication is one of a leader’s most powerful instruments for accomplishing these goals.
Effective communication is essential for building trust, aligning efforts toward common goals, and inspiring positive change. When communication is lacking, important information can be misunderstood, hence, relationships deteriorate, eventually creating barriers. This will hamper progress in the organization. Here are some communication skills you need to have to be a more effective leader.
Adapting Your Communication Style
To be an effective communicator, it is important to understand different communication styles and adapt to what is fitting for you. This will enable you to get your messages across and create a stronger working relationship with your team.
It is essential to identify your leadership style so that you will be able to understand how you interact with and are regarded by team members in the organization. To give an example, an authoritative leader has full control of the team. While this approach may be effective for some, it may fall short for others who seek more autonomy in their role3. Since each employee’s motivations are distinct, you must know how to tailor your communication to successfully influence others and achieve the organization’s goals.
A leader who is willing to develop a culture of transparency in their organization can open up an array of potential benefits. Transparency can lead to higher levels of trust, when employees see your willingness, to be honest, and open, they will likely trust you more.
Leadership encourages an environment where employees are free to share their ideas and participate by speaking freely about the goals, opportunities, and challenges of the company. Also, it encourages experimentation and active problem-solving.
Every employee should be aware of their contribution to the company’s success. The more open the leaders are, the better the employees’ involvement. A survey shows that a third of employees rarely know what is going on in their organizations. This is where transparency comes in, to break the communication barrier.
An effective leader emphasizes a specific message when communicating with employees. The clarity in communication must make understanding easier. Clarity tells your employees exactly what you want. Explain the desired result of a project or any initiative and be specific about what you expect to be accomplished by the end of each schedule. Try to simplify your message and offer clarification or assistance to avoid any confusion. This way, employees will be more engaged in the process as they understand what they are working toward.
Effective leaders know how to listen and respond to their employees to improve mutual understanding. When you ask for your team’s ideas, points of view, and feedback, it shows that you care. Invite them to actively participate and share in the discussions by asking questions and taking notes.
It's critical to stay in the present moment and avoid interruptions. Maintain your attention on the employee and what they are saying. It is best to avoid any distractions such as checking your text or incoming emails on your handphone. Furthermore, ask open-ended questions such as: “will you define”, “tell me more about”, “what do you like or think”, “how did you”, and other questions that cannot be answered by yes or no. When you use these phrases, you will be able to draw out more thoughtful and thorough responses from your team.
Empathy is one of the most important skills of an effective leader. Having the ability to understand the needs of your employees and being aware of their feelings and thoughts, would cultivate a greater presence in your leadership role.
Balancing many responsibilities can be difficult, showing empathy will allow you to increase your patience and attentiveness towards your employees. Also, by responding with empathy, you will be able to improve your communication skills and create a more productive team4.
Proper Body Language
Pay attention to your body language to ensure that you are sending the right message. A positive body language will put you in a position of comfort, dignity, and likeability.
Also known as open body language, it helps you to be open and approachable to your employees as it helps them feel at ease during your interactions. Carry yourself with grace, smile, and make eye contact, this example shows that you are paying attention to your gestures and expressions, thereby showing sincerity and trust towards others.
Giving, Receiving, and Implementing Feedback
Giving and receiving feedback is a two-way process, it is all about mutual understanding, respecting each other’s ideas and opinions, and learning something from each other. Asking for feedback from your team requires you to be active listening, and appreciative.
These will not only help you grow as an effective leader but will build trust among your team workers. However, you do not simply listen to the feedback, you must take action.
First, manage your initial response, since there might be comments that are not to your liking, it is still best not to be defensive. Second, thank them sincerely and continue your active listening. Third, put yourself in their shoes. Fourth, ask for examples to better understand their feedback. Fifth, consider the potential benefits. You can always ask for time to follow up as there will be feedback that you cannot immediately act upon. Last but not least, always make your employees feel heard, and inform them of any progress that you will make for them. In this way, they will feel appreciated and motivated.
Improving Your Leadership Communication Skills
Effective leadership is built on communication. You must demonstrate empathy, and transparency, and understand how your team perceives you through verbal and non-verbal cues. So, learn to be a good communicator today.