So, how do you rate as a leader? Do your employees and coworkers come to you freely for instruction, clarification or with new ideas?
Do you feel that your direction is carried out clearly and efficiently or do you have to bang your head against the wall to get your point across?
We all know that a team is only as good as it’s leader and your communication skills have a major impact on how effective a leader you are in business today. Remember, that the quality of your communication can be judged by the results you get. Luckily, even if you are not a born communicator you can begin to acquire these skills by following some fairly simple rules and pointers:
Really Know Your Audience:
Different people require different types of engagement so adjust your style accordingly. It is important to understand the people with whom you are communicating and speak their “language” based on how they like to receive information. This not only facilitates good communication but it also reflects your empathy and understanding of the other parties and their situation.
Hang With Your Team:
Leaders gain the confidence of their employees by building up a personal rapport. We all respond well to charm and humor if it is genuine. A feel good message, if delivered constructively, can be an effective way to get a point across, especially if that point also contains an element of correction or reprimand. Don’t forget to also listen, really listen to what the other person is saying. They are much more likely to absorb what you are saying if they also feel heard.
Keep The Message Simple:
A simple message without a lot of technical jargon easily grabs the attention of the intended audience. Less is definitely more. Decide what points are important and stick to them. (Of course, when the points are technical then definitely include the jargon).
Be An Effective Listener First:
Stephen Covey’s fifth of seven habits is “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,” meaning listen before you talk. According to Dale Carnegie’s timeless classic “How to win friends and influence people,” the golden rule of effective communication techniques is to listen first. Understanding the needs of your employees and listening to them with undivided attention will earn you loyal team players. This not only helps in getting the job done faster but it makes it a much more rewarding experience for all involved. This will never hurt your business.
Take responsibility for the message conveyed:
Don’t make the assumption that every person in a room will hear you in the same way. It is your responsibility as a leader to ensure that each person listening has a clear understanding of the message. We have all played enough “Broken Telephone” to know what can happen if a vague message gets passed down the line. The Gallup Organization tells us that employees want to “know what is expected of me.” If you’ve told them, tell them again and then check to make sure what you said is what they heard.
Circle Back and Follow Up:
One way to make sure the message is well understood is to reiterate and follow up the original message in writing. You can also ask individuals to repeat the message as they understand it. Ask questions like: “What was your take on that message?” or “Can I answer any questions you have?” I prefer to ask, “What questions do you have?” because it presupposes they have a question.
Motivate the listener:
Effective leaders are those that motivate their employees through their interactions. By speaking with clarity and authority, you can give your listeners confidence in your abilities and motivate your employees to respond positively to your message. This in turn will help to build their own confidence and enthusiasm around the role they are playing on your team. This is where initiative and ownership by the employee is born.
We all want to maximize the success and productivity of our business. Bad communication resulting in mixed messages, crossed wires and hard feelings is at best counter productive and can scuttle even the best laid plans. It quite simply is a luxury which no business can afford. Learning to communicate more effectively as a leader will have a profound impact on the growth of your business and is sure to help create a more dynamic and positive working environment.
Do It Now:
Make a plan and take action. Take a minute to write out what you want to have happen and what you will do to make that happen with your communication. Then… do it! One of the tools I use with a team to give their communication a “check-up” is the Leadership Game. Good ideas are easy but it is the leader who can get them across quickly and effectively. A leader will make things happen and the things that happen will be good things. After all, isn’t that what good leaders do?