Winston Churchill once famously said: “The difference between mere management and leadership is communication”, and in an ever-changing world of cultural diversity, generational differences, and technological dependence, these words have never been more true in understanding what it takes to communicate with a team of hard-working individuals takes patience and persistence. But what is really involved in good communication, and how can you, as a leader, improve your communication skills?
Why is Communication Vital to Great Leadership?
It could be said that the primary role of a leader is to communicate. CEOs, Managers, and overseers usually have more conversations than anyone else on their teams. They are responsible for ensuring that everyone is doing their part to accomplish a shared objective. However, this is only possible if they understand how to communicate effectively with their team.
Excellent communication is far more than just a means of conveying information to others. A good leader can use communication as a tool to instill confidence, build trust, and unite a workforce. So if you want to improve your leadership, you first need to enhance your ability to communicate well.
What does Good Communication Look Like?
There are many ways to communicate with your team, but not all are necessarily good forms of communication. For example, modern technology has made it easy to convey information instantly via messaging, email, and video conference. While these tools certainly have their place in the work environment, many in leadership positions rely on them too heavily, removing a lot of the personal connection that comes with face-to-face conversations. That being said, even in-person conversations can be unproductive if conducted with the wrong motives or in a way that makes your employees feel unappreciated. Instead, your goal should be to relate to an individual on a human level. To make that happen, you should always strive to be clear, empathetic, and willing to respond to feedback.
Good Communication Should be Clear
When addressing objectives, performance, or concerns with your team members, it’s essential that you are as specific and straightforward as possible. Sometimes, you may feel redundant, oversimplifying matters and repeating small details. However, ensuring that your team knows exactly what is expected of them is key to eliminating confusion and boosting productivity. In addition, a team that is well aware of its specific goals is more engaged and enthusiastic about a project.
Good Communication Should be Empathetic
Effective communication works both ways. To build trust, it’s vital that your team members feel that their concerns are heard and appreciated. Put yourself in their shoes and try to feel what they are feeling. When they see you really care, they will feel valued and more eager to perform at their maximum potential.
Good communication acts on feedback
As mentioned before, efficient communication is a two-way street. As a leader, without a doubt, you expect your team to respond to any suggestions and criticisms that you may have for them. So, why shouldn’t they expect the same of you? When you receive feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, don’t just push the critiques aside. Instead, acknowledge the concerns and honestly strive to make the needed changes. Then, when your workers see you applying their advice, you’ll put yourself on an equal level to them rather than coming across as a hypocritic and demanding authority figure.
How Can You Improve Your Communication Skills as a Leader?
Now that you know what effective communication looks like, it’s time to look at a few practical steps you can take to improve your communication skills with your team.
Embrace Courageous Conversations
As human beings, we naturally tend to avoid conflict. So when the time comes for a serious conversation with someone on your team, you may find it challenging to directly address the issue, fearing the response you’ll receive from the individual. However, In the workplace, the most difficult conversations are usually the most important. So, knowing how to handle these situations confidently is essential.
Before a difficult conversation, think about your motives for having it. Ask yourself: How can I use this conversation to help this person realize their full potential? Can they perform at their best without this conversation? What are the consequences of avoiding this difficult conversation? Preparing ahead of time in this way will help you to make your points clear, allowing them to see the value of your words. Remember, they are just as (if not more) nervous than you are, so be empathetic with them. It takes courage but learning to be firm while maintaining a kind demeanor shows your workers that you are confident and worthy of their trust.
Adopt a Leadership Model
A leadership model is a theoretical set of guidelines and ideals that help individuals in a leadership role provide structure and guidance to those working underneath them.
There are dozens of different models to follow, each designed to highlight the strengths and qualities of an authoritative figure and make it easier for them to communicate with their team.
The Servant Leadership Model is an excellent choice for those looking to redefine themselves as bosses or managers. Servant Leadership focuses on turning qualities stereotypically viewed as weaknesses into strengths that unite a team and make them feel like an essential part of the working ecosystem.
Learn to be Adaptable
There is no one size fits all form of communication for a team. Each member of your workforce is unique and therefore communicates in different ways. For the inexperienced leader, these varying styles can create much confusion and disorder, especially within a larger workforce. One 2018 study conducted by The Economist Magazine Intelligence Unit, discovered that 42 percent of participants felt that varying communication styles were the leading cause of poor communication in their workplace. While Differences among employees can be challenging, learning how to communicate with each member of your staff will make you much more approachable and personable and make work life much easier for you and everyone else on your team.
Try to think about each of them individually. Do they take the initiative in addressing challenges, or do they need repeated direction? How do they take constructive criticism? Do they prefer brief, to-the-point conversations, or do they like to talk extensively on a subject?
Adapting to the individual communication styles of your workforce is the best thing you can do to improve how you are viewed as a leader and reduce unneeded confusion and miscommunication.
Improve Your Ability to Communicate with Aden Leadership
Enhancing your communication skills is the key to becoming a more inspiring leader. At Aden Leadership, it is our desire to assist businesses and organizations of all sizes realize their potential for growth through leadership development. From online webinars to one-on-one coaching sessions, learning opportunities are available for everyone looking to build stronger relationships with those around them. So schedule a free discovery call today, and find out how Aden Leadership can take your communication skills to the next level.