It is understood that the ability to communicate effectively is a vital aspect of all leaders. Communication is all about knowing what the audience wants and delivering the message to them in a clear and compassionate manner. What are the communication essentials that make leaders effective? Martin Luther King Jr. made the iconic “I have a dream” speech that touched the hearts of millions of people, and it rightly demonstrated the elements of powerful communication for leaders that I have mentioned below. Let’s review these criteria that can help leaders increase their influence over people.
A leader is appreciated for being precise in messaging. Often, leaders cannot clearly communicate a message as they might not have the passion or adequate preparation. The clarity in communication is developed by knowing what is helpful for people to know. It is also essential to provide the proper context in all communications. For example, big business decisions and changes often need to be communicated to highlight how they help the organization and impact the people.
Compassionate communication helps in gaining the trust of people. Leaders should be able to demonstrate that they understand others. Another aspect of trust comes from fulfilling promises. A leader often communicates to people but might not follow up on their words. This renders the communication ineffective and is prone to loss of trust. Walking the talk helps people to gain trust and to respect the leader.
Communicating with others is about connecting with them. Communication helps a leader build bonds with the people.
- A critical aspect of communication for leaders is active listening. It is paramount for a leader to give people the full opportunity to speak. It helps to gain the respect of people, enhances creativity, nurtures collaboration, and builds relationships. Listening also provides the ability for leaders to understand others’ perspectives and provide them with solutions.
- Further, studies show that humour is a powerful element in communicating and connecting with people.
- Finally, the connection is strengthened by being open to communication. The open door policy provides confidence in leaders. Employees who are generally reserved and shy should be encouraged to speak.
Leaders need to put themselves in the shoes of the people. What do the people need to know? What behaviours will the message generate? Will the communication generate positive vibes and enthusiasm in the people? These are key considerations for a leader to communicate effectively.
Leaders are appreciated for transparency. Being able to provide answers to questions raised by people with complete honesty determines the authenticity of the leaders. It is easy for people to sense the lack of transparency when leaders avoid honest answers. Accepting the inability to share or the lack of complete information is essential for transparency. If there are aspects of the message that are strictly confidential, clear communication of the challenges in sharing the message will help with transparency.
People respect, appreciate, and follow a leader who they can understand and connect with. Strong communicators might not be leaders yet but have the attributes to become strong leaders. However, it is imperative that all leaders be strong communicators to perform effectively. A leader’s ability to positively influence others is directly proportional to their ability to communicate appropriately. It is paramount that the leader develops the communication skills discussed above to enhance their leadership effectiveness.
~ Anuj Jagannathan, CEO, Propelurs Consulting
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