Effective Communication = Effective Leadership
‘Communication is the key to great leadership’ - Is this jaded statement effective anymore? You’ve heard it all the time and you know its implications. Since your classroom days, you’ve been taught to focus on vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and syntax. Later, you probably learned finer points like body language, tone and delivery necessary to become a skilful communicator. Due to this overdose of information, communication has either lost its true meaning or most leaders unconsciously tend to overlook it presuming they have already mastered it. But that’s a big mistake - communication is a skill, and like any other skill you have to practise it to perfect it.
You will agree that leadership is about building and fostering relationships with various stakeholders such as co-workers, customers and investors. How do you think you can achieve this if not through effective communication? You may be aware of managers who are labelled as autocrats, insensitive, unorganised, hyper, pompous, and arrogant. These bad adjectives are attributed to them as a result of ineffective communication. To inspire trust, respect and admiration, leaders need to simply communicate effectively.
Bearing in mind a few basic communication techniques and making conscious efforts to improve upon them can reap rich benefits for any leader.
It may sound odd but active listening is the most important part of communication. Yes, leadership is not about standing and shouting orders. It is also not about giving directives on the presumption that everything is known. In fact, it is about engaging people in a conversation, creating an environment for constructive discussion and dialogue. It is about providing opportunity to others to voice their opinion and give feedback. Outstanding leaders are active listeners and astute observers who know how to gather information from their audience. Leaders who are active listeners can perceive talent and opportunity in places others cannot even find.
Clarity and transparency are the other pillars of communication. Successful leaders deliver a clear message that is understood by their audience. Their tone exudes authority and their body language demonstrates confidence. There is no ambiguity, or hidden agendas, or reading between the lines. Leaders should strive to ensure that communication from their end is not some mumble-jumble of words with wishy-washy intentions. It is about conveying a meaningful and honest message, and making every word count.
Leaders who are impulsive and carry emotions on their sleeves are susceptible to making bad decisions that are irreversible in future. This is definitely not a good communication strategy. Successful leaders are level-headed and can take logical and rational decisions in any situation. Leaders need to be consistent in their communication style, quality and frequency. This is the only way to establish reliability and build credibility.
Effective communication is crucial for effective leadership. Prowess in communication is critical not just to provide details about the mission and vision of the organization, but also to motivate, inspire and move people in the desired direction.
What do you think – Are you prepared to brush-up on your communication skills? Do you need to revamp your communication strategy?