Good Communication Skills Leads to be a Successful Business Leader
Business communication is communication that is intended to help a business achieve a fundamental goal, through information sharing between employees as well as people outside the company. It includes the process of creating, sharing, listening, and understanding messages between different groups of people through written and verbal formats. The way that people communicate and operate within a business is very vital to how successful the company will be in the business world. Business communication occurs internally, employee-to-employee, or externally, business-to-business or business-to-consumer. This internal and external communication can happen through verbal or non-verbal communication methods. Often these internal and external forms of communication come with barriers, which can prevent the receiver from understanding the information sent by the sender.
Why is Communication an Essential Skill for Effective Leadership?
Leaders must be good communicators because they inspire and empower people around them, and without good communication skills, a leader would never be heard or understood by others. Therefore, effective communication is an important non-technical skill that every leader must possess. Below are some reasons why good communication skills are essential for effective leadership.
Develop a bond
Effective leadership is measured by the time a team takes to complete a task without any friction, and good communication skills play an important role in that. It brings together the team members to achieve desired results by clearly defining goals and responsibilities. Meanwhile, lack of communication makes it tough to achieve goals and decreases productivity. By clearly communicating goals, roles, responsibilities, important information, and other things with their team, a manager develops a strong bond with the team, devoid of miscommunications and quarrels.
Trust binds a team together, and effective leader ensures that they undertake different activities to build trust among their team members. Leaders clearly communicate the roles and responsibilities of all team members in a project beforehand, avoiding confusion in the team and promoting trust.
A leader should be an active listener to become an effective communicator. They should know when to stop talking and when to listen to their team members. By doing this, they gain the employees’ trust, who then share their opinions, ideas, grievances, etc., with the leader. Active listening also helps the leaders to understand their team better, therefore, listening skills are equally important to communication skills for effective leadership.
An effective communicator has a clarity of thought which transforms into the words they use to instruct and interact with team members. They clearly define the goals to be fulfilled by team members and monitor if the team has successfully completed the goal by the end of the milestone. If the team members fail to meet the goals, effective leaders simplify goals to help employees understand them.
Empathy is believed to be the top leadership skill needed to successfully execute several business functions. Therefore, leaders must acknowledge and be empathetic towards the perils and adversities their employees face. If need be, they should put themselves in employees’ shoes and make decisions that benefit them. In addition, an empathetic leader helps in keeping the team together.
Ability to ask open-ended questions
Effective leaders push their team members to do their best, and in that process, they encourage them to ask open-ended questions. It helps in developing a great bond between team members and their leader. In addition, it helps leaders understand their employees’ motivation, thoughts, and goals better.
Receiving and implementing feedback
Feedback helps leaders work on themselves; therefore, an effective leader doesn’t just listen to feedback but also implements it. They also provide constant feedback to their team members to improve their efficiency and productivity. This is one of the must-have skills besides possessing effective communication skills for leadership.
Transparency plays a crucial role in breaking down the communication barrier between leaders and their teams. It is believed that many managers and executives hardly know anything about their organization. As a result, they are unaware of the organization’s policies and goals, which leads to low efficiency and productivity. By speaking openly about the company’s goals, a leader builds trust between employees and themselves.
Possessing communication skills for effective leadership is not limited to words; non-verbal action behaviour also plays an important role. It is believed that non-verbal cues are an important part of effective communication skills. Therefore, a leader must work on their body language and non-verbal cues while interacting with employees to ensure that their message is rightly conveyed to the team members.
Further in this article, we will discuss the role of communication in leadership and delve deep into different types of leadership courses that can help aspiring leaders learn effective communication skills.
15 Critical Tips for Leaders to Communicate More Effectively
Our Top Communication Tips for Leaders
1. Communicate relentlessly.
Communicate information, thoughts, and ideas clearly — and frequently — in different media. Keep processes open and transparent, and find ways to help smooth the path of communication for your team, employees, or organization. Shed all traces of detachment and arrogance, and take the time to talk to your people.
2. Set clear expectations.
In every relationship, our behavior is guided by a set of rules or social norms — and in a professional setting, these norms tend to go unspoken. Be intentional about establishing clear expectations and team norms at your organization, whether you’re sending an email to your entire team, leading a group discussion, or having a one-on-one conversation with a direct report.
3. Simplify and be direct.
Say what you mean. Be direct. Don’t hide behind complexity or pile on a ton of information. Direct communication can be the most important type of communication. This is even more important when communicating in a virtual setting.
4. Illustrate through stories.
When you tell a good story, you give life to a vision, goal, or objective. Telling good stories creates trust, captures hearts and minds, and serves as a reminder of the vision. Plus, people find it easier to repeat a story or refer to an image or quote than to talk about a mission statement, strategy document, or project plan. This is key when communicating the vision. Your ability to create and communicate a compelling, authentic, and bold story will also help you bolster your leadership brand.
5. Be prepared.
Poor communication in the past might mean your audience resists what you have to say today. Do your homework. Start familiarizing yourself with the context around an issue, and any alternative viewpoints and perspectives about it, before you initiate communication. If you’re met with resistance or presented with a different position, you’ll feel more prepared to address and overcome objections and communicate more effectively.
6. Know your audience.
Different stakeholders may have different concerns. The tactics you use to influence one group might not be the best approach for the next. Tailor your influencing strategy for the particular person and consider their personality, goals, and objectives, as well as their roles and responsibilities. For example, someone who is highly rational may be more easily swayed by a logical appeal than an emotional one.
7. Reinforce intent with body language.
Showing positive body language like eye contact, nodding, and other relaxed gestures can inspire team members and make them feel more comfortable communicating with you. A simple head nod or smile can go a long way to show you’re paying attention and that you care, and little gestures like this can add up, slowly helping you to build rapport and collaboration and transform your organizational culture, too.
8. Read the room.
Watch your audience closely for nonverbal signs of engagement or disengagement, confusion or understanding, etc. and adjust your message and style accordingly. You can do this literally during in-person meetings, and you can even “read the room” in virtual settings by looking closely at others’ faces on the screen and by soliciting feedback.
If people are understanding your communication and aligned with your message, you may get lots of eye contact, see nodding heads, observe audience members leaning forward or demonstrating other body language that suggests alignment with your message. If you see listeners leaning back, with arms crossed, and bored or confused expressions on their faces, then you may need to adjust your message or delivery style.
It’s helpful to pause occasionally to let people ask questions and check for understanding, giving your listeners a chance to respond or seek clarification, etc. Stay flexible so you can continually notice how your communications are landing with your audience, and adjust based on the signals they send.
9. Ask good questions.
If good leaders listen more than they speak, the right conversation prompts are crucial. The best leadership questions get right to the heart of things, cut through complicated situations, and identify levers that will really make a difference. Asking non-directive inquiries can also unlock insights — which is why asking powerful questions is key to coaching your people.
10. Listen and encourage input.
Seek out, and then listen to, individuals from all levels of the organization — from the key stakeholders who have a lot of opinions you need to consider, to the new employees who may be reluctant to voice concerns. Let team members know they are valuable, show empathy toward them, and create psychological safety so people feel comfortable speaking up. It will show those you lead that you care about both them and the organization.
Also, be okay with silence. Encourage the other person to offer ideas and solutions before you give yours. Do 80% of the listening and 20% of the talking. Demonstrate an interest in, and respect for, your colleagues — this builds trust and makes the emotional connection that’s so important for effective leadership.
11. Take feedback seriously.
Asking for honest feedback from your team or employees can foster a positive stream of communication, and it helps build trust overall. This tactic can also make your team feel more respected, giving them a chance to have their voices heard. If you take their feedback seriously, you will grow as a leader and enhance your skillset. However, if you ask for and then don’t incorporate their feedback, the opposite is true — it could lead to a loss of trust and alignment. Following through with action steps will reinforce the message and show that you truly heard and understood the other person’s concerns.
12. Affirm with actions.
While effective leaders master the art and craft of language, speak clearly, and present logical and compelling arguments, skilled leaders also know that communication goes beyond words. If people hear one things from you but see another, your credibility is shot. People need to trust you. Your behavior and actions communicate a world of information — so focus on alignment and be clear on the messages you send even when you aren’t saying anything.
13. Initiate the tough, but needed, conversations.
Difficult conversations, whether with a client or direct report, are an inevitable part of any workplace. It’s tempting to ignore conflicts, but effective leaders must be able to address concerns as they arise. Be sure to approach any difficult conversation from a neutral perspective and explore both sides before coming to a conclusion. Work to problem-solve by inventing options that meet each side’s important concerns, and do your best to resolve conflicts through open communication.
14. Involve others before developing a plan of action.
The work doesn’t stop when the communication ends. Take whatever you’ve learned in the exchange, synthesize it, and present your plan to the appropriate stakeholders. Generating buy-in and making sure that everyone is on the same page before executing on strategy will be key to achieving organizational goals.
15. Remember your reputation.
Never compromise your reputation for the sake of communication. At times, you may walk a fine line between being too aggressive and being too relaxed, and as a leader, you need to make sure you don’t get a reputation for leaning too heavily in one direction.
Shriya Kumari [MBA HR]
AirCrews Aviation Pvt. Ltd.