May 08, 2021
Essential Communication Skills for Leaders
Effective communication is an essential foundation for business and the cornerstone for building and maintaining good working relationships. Positive, transparent and genuine communication can help to build a healthy workplace culture, reduce employee turnover and drive productivity and innovation. Poor communication, on the other hand, can increase employee turnover, damage morale, negatively affect productivity, and can even lead to lost sales and revenue.
But it’s about more than just lost sales. Good communication from managers and leaders can help to bring teams together around a shared vision, drive creativity and innovation, build trust and manage challenges…
To help you develop your leadership capabilities, here are six essential communication skills that will help you get the best from your team.
- Adapt your communication style
As any good leader knows, adapting your leadership style to suit the individuals and teams you’re managing is essential for getting the best out of them. Every team member’s motivations and ways of working will be different. So it’s important to be able to tailor your communication style to best influence and motivate each employee in a way that suits them. Whereas some people may respond well to an upbeat pep talk, others may respond better to a more pragmatic discussion focused on solutions or results.
- Learn active listening
A good leader knows when to talk and when to listen. But more importantly, they also know how to listen. Active listening is another important communication skill for leaders. Active listening involves fully concentrating on what is being said and actively engaging with it, rather than just passively “hearing” what the speaker is saying. It can involve engaging with the speaker and what they are saying by asking questions, clarifying, taking notes and summarising. An active listener will also be “seen” to be listening through the use of feedback signals like positive body language, eye contact, head nodding and verbal cues.
Active listening not only helps to improve and clarify the communication, it will also help to solidify the exchange in both the speaker’s and listener’s memories. Finally, active listening can help to build better workplace morale and relationships as employees will feel that what they have to say is taken seriously and engaged with.
- Improve communication clarity
One of the biggest workplace communication killers is a lack of clarity. If messaging is overly complex, vague or poorly conveyed it can be difficult to know precisely what needs to be done. Try to speak in specifics and be clear about tasks, goals or instructions. Learn to provide people with the precise information they need to succeed without overwhelming them with extraneous information that will just muddy up the waters.
Clear communication removes ambiguities and uncertainties, enabling employees to better understand the task and achieve the desired results.
- Ask questions
One of the best ways to determine the effectiveness of your communication is to ask questions. However, try to avoid questions that generate a yes/no response and instead ask open-ended questions that require more active and thoughtful responses from the listener.
Questions like “Can you explain that further?” or “What do you think of that approach” can elicit active responses from listeners. They can help to ensure the clarity of the messaging and that everyone understands what they need to do. They will also encourage feedback, differing opinions and ideas and open up more creative and collaborative approaches.
- Beware of body language
Communication is more than just speaking and listening. Body language plays a huge role in communication, especially workplace communication. You should always try to maintain open and friendly body language. Beware of your posture, what you are doing with your hands, your facial expressions and so on. Good body language can help to build trust, establish a rapport, and convey a sense of engagement and active interaction.
- Ask for feedback
Asking employees for feedback – whether it’s feedback on your performance, a project or initiative, company performance or anything else – is a valuable communication tool for a variety of reasons.
Getting feedback from your team can be useful in helping you gauge how effective your own communication has been and identify areas that you can improve. Asking for feedback is also a great way to show that you value the opinions and ideas of your team members.
Once you have useful feedback, it’s vital that you act on it as this shows that you value the feedback as something more than an empty gesture.
Positive and clear communication is at the heart of any workplace. If you can be transparent, forthright and clear in your communication it will go a long way to building a healthy, productive and dynamic workplace culture.