According to Grammarly’s State of Business Communication Report 2022, a common myth in the business landscape is that communication comes naturally to all. However, poor communication could make businesses in the U.S. lose up to $1.2 trillion per year! Moreover, nine out of 10 leaders believe that ineffective communication increases business costs and leads to missed deadlines, impacting both brand reputation and productivity. Thus, there is a greater emphasis on business and executive communication, especially in the modern hybrid work culture. But how can leaders or C-level executives communicate better? Keeping this in mind, we have curated a list of the top 10 executive communication skills to help leaders communicate more effectively with their teams.
This blog covers the following:
- What are the Essential Executive Communication Skills for Leaders?
- Interpersonal Communication
- Personal Branding
- Asking Open-Ended Questions
- Active Listening
- Frequently Asked Questions on Executive Communication
What are the Essential Executive Communication Skills for Leaders?
Leadership and communication are inseparable. In fact, leadership is a communication-based activity that involves communicating vision, ideas, feedback, and results to team members and relevant stakeholders. The question, therefore, is—how can one excel at it? Here are the top executive communication skills to become a better leader:
1. Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication refers to a conversation between two or more people where they exchange ideas, thoughts, expressions, and feelings. It can be face-to-face or online communication. Strong interpersonal skills benefit executive communication as they help leaders build and nurture relationships with their teams, colleagues, and clients. Interpersonal communication not only helps resolve conflicts easily and ensure harmony in the workplace but also allows leaders to motivate their team and boost productivity.
2. Personal Branding
The key role of a leader is to influence other people and set an example. Personal branding as a form of executive communication is one of the best ways to inspire others. How you present yourselves instead of others—the values you admire, traits, qualities, thoughts, and vision—all form a part of your personal brand. It facilitates indirect communication by inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.
Storytelling is a powerful tool for effective communication. It is a foundational leadership skill that serves multiple purposes. Leaders can leverage the art of storytelling to explain ideas and vision to their teams and clients, share knowledge, and coach team members. Storytelling is also beneficial for building trust, seeking loyalty, and engaging and motivating employees. Narrating facts and using emotions help leaders build strong connections with others.
To improve executive communication with storytelling, carry a notebook at all times to note down significant experiences or story ideas. Make sure to practice this regularly and remove any irrelevant details. Also listen to podcasts or read autobiographies on leadership to learn how to narrate stories.
The ability to negotiate well enables leaders to resolve workplace conflicts, make collaborative decisions, and efficiently manage stakeholders. It facilitates team building and problem-solving. Learning to negotiate is crucial for executive communication because it involves actively listening to others, analyzing conflicts that arise, finding solutions, making effective decisions, and communicating the same clearly.
Another skill that enhances executive communication is being transparent. It promotes a culture of trust, honesty, and open communication, both within and outside the organization. Through transparent and clear communication, leaders can gain the trust of their team members, clients, and relevant stakeholders. Transparency also acts as a catalyst in the problem-solving process as it encourages collaborative discussions, leading to better decision-making.
Leaders can learn how to communicate transparently by offering regular feedback, promoting open communication channels, and acknowledging errors.
The modern workplace environment is extremely dynamic, making organizations undergo frequent changes. This often leads to workplace conflicts and employee fatigue. Organizations thus need to communicate and implement change management more effectively. Leaders also need to adapt to varying communication styles while dealing with senior management, customers, suppliers, and regulatory authorities, making adaptability an essential executive communication skill.
Business executives can adapt their communication and leadership styles by seeking regular feedback, using multiple communication channels, and assessing responses.
Empathy is one of the most important leadership virtues that facilitates better communication. It helps team members as well as clients feel supported and valued and enables positive relationships and work culture. Empathy also helps reduce burnout and increases job satisfaction and commitment. Empathy, therefore, as a crucial executive communication skill, involves showing genuine concern and offering support to the employees.
Develop an empathetic communication style by being genuinely interested in employee well-being, practicing active listening, and tailoring one’s communication style according to team preferences.
Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most important means of executive communication; it helps boost productivity by encouraging people to do better. Using the right channels and attitude to seek and offer feedback helps leaders build positive relationships, motivating employees to perform better.
When it comes to providing positive feedback, use the BET model, which stands for Behavior, Effect, and Thank you. Start by explaining the positive behavior of the team member and when you noted the same. Then explain how their actions positively impact the organization. The last step is to thank them and encourage them to do better.
On the other hand, use the BEAR model for negative feedback to explain the negative “behavior” of a team member, its “effect”, an “alternative” on how to react better, and how changing that behavior will have a positive “result”. While receiving feedback, leaders should be open-minded, listen with respect, acknowledge the feedback, and convey the intention to do better.
9. Asking Open-Ended Questions
Rigid and closed communication can cause workplace conflicts and employee dissatisfaction. Leaders must know how to communicate using open-ended questions such as “How can we avoid such problems in the future?”, “What are your long-term career goals and how can we help you achieve them?” and “How can we serve our clients better?”
Asking such open-ended questions can spark meaningful conversations, leading to critical thinking and innovation. This makes team members feel valued by including them in the decision-making process.
10. Active Listening
In modern leadership styles like transformational and laissez-faire, leaders encourage their teams to perform better and push their boundaries. This requires guiding them and listening to the challenges they are facing. Many employees are switching jobs to feel a sense of purpose. Thus, leaders must possess active listening skills for better decision-making and encouraging their team members.
The LinkedIn Talent Solutions survey 2021 indicates that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is becoming an integral part of the workplace culture. Promoting an inclusive work culture and minimizing bias requires leaders to communicate with their team members by listening to their grievances, and making them feel heard and valued.
Frequently Asked Questions on Executive Communication
1. How Can I Develop My Executive Communication Skills to Sound Like a Leader?
A key leadership attribute is to speak only when necessary and spend the majority of the time observing or listening to others. Start improving your executive communication by first listening with intent. Also speak concisely, clearly, and directly. The best way to do this is to practice as much as possible with your mentors or colleagues. Another way to increase your confidence is to record yourself speaking and listen to the recordings to figure out the mistakes made and work on them.
2. Why is Effective Executive Communication Important in Leadership Roles?
Effective executive communication helps leaders communicate better with their teams and external stakeholders. It promotes a culture of trust and collaboration and improves interpersonal relationships, ultimately boosting productivity and decision-making.
3. Want to Excel in Executive Communication? Discover Our Leadership Courses Now.
Executive communication is one of the most crucial yet challenging skills for leaders. It takes experience, practical learning, and guidance to master the skills. Emeritus’ online leadership courses help professionals master the art of executive communication by helping them learn various skills, trends, and insights into changing leadership and communication styles.
We are currently living in a skills-first economy that requires professionals, especially C-level executives, to stay on top of changing leadership skills and trends. There is an increasing demand for leaders with transferable skills to navigate the complex challenges of the modern business environment. Emeritus helps leaders and professionals constantly upskill themselves. Check out our online leadership courses today and become an impactful leader!
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