The Art of Leadership Communication
Looking back at your last message to a client or a team member, how did you do? Did you add a visual illustration, interactive opportunity or immediate application that required some form of action?
Communication is an essential leadership skill. As leaders we are called upon to counsel, cast vision, set goals, make plans, and chart the course for the ship we are leading. The bigger the ship the slower it turns. Often, you will have to communicate a little and steps of progress to keep everyone on board and on the same page. If the ship is small, then you need to communicate clearly so you do not lose people overboard if you turn too quickly.
The key question for business leaders is not “why” high performance but rather “how”?
Leaders who do this build a sense of shared purpose by painting a compelling vision of the future. They answer these questions: Where are we going, what does it look like, what are the benefits, what role do I play in the success? The differentiator is consistency. The best leaders know they need to paint this vision over and over. At every opportunity, they share the vision of what’s ahead.
Communication is the lifeblood of Leadership
A recent LinkedIn poll asked business leaders ‘What do you think is the most important factor in Leadership?’ 38% of them named communication. 24% of said they would like to see better character.
Very surprisingly, despite the dominant stress on Vision, Drive and Character in the literature on Leadership, the overwhelming choice was ‘Communication’.
Does this really mean that Communication is the most important factor in Leadership? Not really – after all, a poll is only telling us the opinion of people – it’s not measuring which factor has the most impact in practice. But it does highlight something I believe is rather important.
The results were pretty consistent across gender, and also across the different sizes of companies respondents worked for. With the exception that communication was (understandably) viewed as even more of an important factor in very large enterprises.
Leaders Communicate, and Communicators Lead
From CEOs to supervisors and everything in between, most of the leaders have a few common communication habits that any of us can take to persuade, inform and encourage teams to be more successful. I’d like to share them with you.
I believe there are basically six rules that will help you communicate more effectively, reduce conflict in your organization, and become a better leader:-
Rule 1: Organize thoughts
Organizing your thoughts systematically is the first step to effective communication. You should be clear about the message that you want to convey, and it is helpful to have a framework for the conversation.
Rule 2: Plan the conversation ahead of time
When you think through a subject, try to envision what sort of reaction you will evoke. Plan out different directions that the conversation may take and prepare your ground accordingly.
Rule 3: Be aware of nonverbal signals
Did you know much of our communication happens through nonverbal signals? Non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and tone of voice can communicate as much as 65% of what we want to say.
Rule 4: Be succinct
As they say, less is more. This holds true for leadership communication as well. Your goal in communication is to convey a message and create a certain response. Emphasize your key points simply, and respond to questions directly.
Rule 5: Demonstrate how the other person will benefit
When you show how the other person will directly benefit from your offer, you are very close to convincing them. To do this, you must highlight the rewards of your offer, and explain how they will improve his or her life.
Rule 6: Be a good listener
The importance of listening to clients and team members and understanding their viewpoints is often overlooked. Effective communication is a two-way process for leaders; if you adopt a one-way attitude, you will fail to create a rapport.
In the end, there’s no magic formula for great communication. But I’ve seen time and again that the leaders who communicate using these methods are more effective than those who don’t. And I’ve seen very effective communicators become great leaders.
At Learngage, we are helping leaders and managers in some of our marquee clients improve their leadership communication outside traditional class-room trainings; with a multitude of post training tools and frameworks, on-the-job mentoring and a comprehensive 30-60-90 action plan that demonstrates business outcomes.