How well do you communicate with your employees? Are you coherent with the messages you deliver? Do you communicate instructions and goals to your team in a clear and easy-to-understand way? And, perhaps most importantly, is there consistency between the things you say, how you say them, and your non-verbal communication? Most leaders understand the importance of an inclusive and transparent workplace where open communication is encouraged and celebrated. Yet, despite knowing its importance, many leaders struggle with how to achieve that goal and truly connect with their workforce. Leaving leaders with the question, How can I become a better communicator and take advantage of more effective leadership communication strategies?
What are You Really Saying to Your Team?
According to a 1,000 employee poll conducted by Interact/Harris, 91% of respondents point to effective communication as the primary skill their leaders lack. And of the 1,000 respondents, 57% said their leaders lacked the ability to communicate clear instructions. Effective communication leadership skills are vital for leaders to be able to share the information, instructions, and expectations necessary for teams to succeed.
Beyond the nuts and bolts of task and project management, leaders need to understand their team’s values and beliefs to better inspire them. More than 50% of respondents to the Interact/Harris noted their leaders did not have time to meet with employees and refused to talk to subordinates. So, how can leaders build more effective communication skills?
In Times of Crises, Become Comfortable with Ambiguity, Ask Questions and Remain Focused On The Task At Hand
When we think about moments of crisis in our positions, we often find ourselves pushed by anxiety. Nobody likes to undergo these stressful trials. But those that rise to the highest positions of leadership get there by demonstrating calm and poise when dealing with the uncertainty of a crisis. These are the times when a leader’s ability to guide others and leverage their leadership communications skills are truly tested.
The most effective leaders understand how to become comfortable within these moments of ambiguity. Perhaps even more importantly, they know how to continue communicating clearly and effectively so they can inspire others, despite the situation. If you want to become the type of leader who galvanizes others, strengthens their resolve, and helps them to overcome challenging moments, becoming a better communicator is a key step in your development.
Think back to the last crisis you faced alongside your team. How did you respond? Were you the calm and steady voice in the storm, confidently leading everyone toward a brighter horizon? Or did you often worry about yourself and lose focus, becoming gruff, argumentative, or unapproachable? Blowing off steam may make you feel better for the short term. But that sort of leadership communication often leads to a team that begins to avoid interacting with you.
True leaders respond to a crisis by staying focused on the task at hand and remaining even-keeled. Negative emotions are often contagious, so if your team perceives your anxiety, they will receive and mirror your current state. One of the most effective things leaders can do in a moment of crisis is to let team members know that this is the time to not only think, but to act rationally. So remain calm, ask the right questions to understand the problem at hand, then determine the right people to solve the issue.
Open, Authentic Leadership Communication Starts With You – Avoid Sending Mixed Messages
As a leader, you have the responsibility of not only communicating with your team, but for setting the tone and way your team members interact with one another. The opportunity for truly authentic and open leadership communication starts with you. So ask yourself: Are you sending mixed messages to your team?
For example, it’s one thing to be a leader who claims to have an open-door policy. Yet when the going gets tough, do you retreat to your office and close the door? How well do you think your team will react to an absentee leader only concerned with answering emails and checking things off their to-do list?
Another example of mixed messages is when a leader states that they’re always available and ready to listen to their employees’ concerns at any time. However, their team is confronted by two different moods when the situation arises. Either they meet with a boss aggravated their time is being wasted on minor concerns or a helpful player-coach ready to help them learn how to succeed. If your team isn’t sure who you are and how you are going to interact with them, how can they have any steady ground? How can they be on message when there’s no set message to follow?
Beyond all your many responsibilities, your attitude will be the prevailing attitude within your office. So you must always strive for reason and good humor. Beyond setting the tone when it comes to dealing with others, you must clearly state what you’re looking for in each of your team members. An inconsistent or unclear leader creates an inconsistent and underperforming business.
Be Aware of Your Body Language – It Often Says More Than You Think
Often, when we think of leadership communication skills, we only consider the verbal side of the equation. Yet it’s not just what we say to the teams that we lead, but how we communicate it that makes the difference. Think of it this way. How many hours have you devoted to rehearsing presentations or crafting exactly what you want to say for an important meeting?
Now consider how much time you’ve devoted to the proper physical gestures, facial expressions and eye contact. Your leadership communication style and body language say more than words. Plus, what you don’t say will send a bigger message than what you do verbalize. As human beings, our ability to trust others isn’t strictly dependent on what we hear. It’s also what we see and feel.
Effective Leadership Communication Can Be Taught – It Starts With Being Open and Ready to Listen
Less than half of the managers currently in the workforce receive formal management or leadership training. Often, they work their way up to the current position and know how to do their jobs very well. Yet, becoming an effective leader involves learning an entirely new skill set, one those in management are expected to demonstrate almost instantly. Many companies lack internal management training resources, forcing leaders to either learn solely by experience or seek outside resources to become better leaders. Women leaders with an earnest desire to improve their leadership communication strategies, and strengthen all aspects of their leadership, can find the resources they need to be successful with EWF International.
EWF International’s Emerging Leaders Program is a dynamic combination of lecture, discussion, assessments and workshops. Designed for early- and mid-career women in business ready to supercharge their careers and deliver better results for their companies, it’s a vital way for leaders to discover how to make strategic decisions, sharpen their business acumen and strengthen their leadership competencies
The Emerging Leaders Program goes beyond traditional management training to include strategies to overcome challenges and leverage strengths for women in business. Over 12 months, the program offers a total of 24 hours of intense training delivered in monthly 2-hour meetings for feedback and reinforcement of lessons.
Participants will discover how to make better strategic decisions, sharpen their business acumen and strengthen their leadership competencies, including effective leadership communication strategies. We emphasize developing business acumen, change management, managing difficult situations or people, and crafting and managing their personal brand to chart their own professional path as they rise through the ranks.
For more information on how EWF can help you, fill out your information at https://ewfinternational.com/contact/ and we’ll get in touch with you soon.