We’ve all interacted with leaders at some point in our lives. Maybe it was a boss, a mentor, a coach, a parent, a sibling, or even a friend. And, as we recall, the leaders who we shared the most positive experiences with – the leaders who inspired us to be the best versions of ourselves – were those who understood how to develop a relationship with us, those who empathized with our emotions, and those who knew how to shine a guiding light toward turning our trials and tribulations into success stories.
That’s because great leaders are dependent upon their ability to effectively communicate!
If you’re in a workplace leadership position, consistent communication is a vital element of your day-to-day responsibilities – whether it’s to build meaningful relationships, maximize the potential of your employees, oversee projects and assign tasks, or reach out to potential customers, business partners and investors. Leadership coupled with effective communication is a formula for sustained success. It doesn’t always come naturally, but there are proactive strategies that can be implemented to sharpen your skills and diversify your approach.
Develop Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence revolves around our ability to understand, process and manage our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Connecting with the people you’re trying to lead is crucial, and regardless of how much charisma you have or how good of a listener you are, the biggest impact is when you can make deep connections in social interactions.
Be wary of your voice and tone (especially over texting, email and social media where tone can be easily misconstrued) as it will directly dictate how you come across to other people.
With high emotional intelligence, you can adapt to multiple communication styles and provide personalized feedback. Considering everyone responds differently to constructive criticism, some people will require more positive reinforcement than others. In those circumstances, begin feedback sessions by emphasizing what they’ve done well before getting into the needed areas of improvement.
“Jane, I’m really pleased with your performance in areas (A), (B), and (C), but I’d like to see you improve your organization and product knowledge. Here’s what I’d suggest you do…”
Practice Active Listening
When it pertains to communication strategies, analyzing how we speak is usually the first item that comes to mind. But have you ever thought about how you listen? It’s actually just as important. While listening, are you really attempting to understand the message being conveyed? That’s active listening, which requires full concentration and effort.
It’s listening to learn … not only to reply.
Active listening starts with giving the speaker your undivided attention. Always maintain eye contact, and put aside any distractions that could pull you away from the conversation. As you listen, provide acknowledgment through verbal and non-verbal cues like occasional nods, positive body language and facial expressions, and intermixed small responses – such as “yes” and “uh-huh” – that will encourage the speaker to continue their message.
Be Available and Concise
“Your best ability is availability” is a phrase often used as advice toward prospective job candidates, but it also pertains to leadership. It’s impossible to be available 100 percent of the time, albeit your team should feel confident that you are there to answer questions and address concerns in person or through texting/email.
For efficiency, strive to remain as clear and concise as possible in speaking or writing by organizing the framework of your message to avoid rambling jumbled thoughts. It prevents confusion from your staff, which saves time and maximizes the effectiveness of your communication.
As a leader, it’s so important to be personable and approachable. It’s exceedingly easier to interact with warm and welcoming personalities, as opposed to the opposite, which is why kindness can go a long way toward earning trust, building positive relationships and – ultimately – establishing an effective line of communication.
In addition, strive to be aware of how your employees are doing outside of work. Since performance can be impacted by emotions and mental health, great leaders are there to provide guidance and advice on life outside of 9 to 5!
Adhere to these guidelines, and you will be well on your way toward becoming a reliable leader others can depend on.