Communication is one of the most essential skills for any leader. Whether it is to inspire a vision, motivate a team, or resolve a conflict, communication is the key to effective leadership. In fact, some experts estimate that 70% of leadership is communication. But what does it mean to communicate well as a leader? And how can you improve your communication skills to become a better leader?
Communication is more than words
Communication is not just about what you say but also how you say it and how you make others feel. As John C. Maxwell, a renowned leadership coach, and author, said: “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude”. Your tone, body language, and facial expressions can convey more than your words alone. For example, if you speak confidently and enthusiastically, you can inspire trust and excitement in your audience. But if you speak with hesitation and boredom, you can undermine your credibility and lose their interest.
Communication is also about listening and understanding others. As Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, said: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” A good leader knows when to speak and when to listen. Listening shows respect and empathy for others and helps you learn from their perspectives and feedback. Listening also helps you avoid misunderstandings and conflicts and build rapport and trust with others.
Communication is the language of leadership
Communication is not only a skill but also a tool for leadership. As James Humes, a former presidential speechwriter and author, said: “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” Communication can help you achieve various leadership goals, such as:
- Vision: Communication can help you articulate your vision and purpose and align others with your goals and values. A clear, compelling vision can inspire others to follow you and support your cause.
- Influence: Communication can help you persuade and influence others to take action or change their behavior. A persuasive and influential communication style can appeal to others' emotions, logic, and values and overcome their objections or resistance.
- Relationships: Communication can help you build and maintain positive relationships with others. A positive and respectful communication style can foster collaboration, cooperation, and loyalty among your team members, peers, and stakeholders.
- Feedback: Communication can help you give and receive feedback effectively. A constructive and supportive communication style can help you praise others' strengths, address their weaknesses, and encourage their growth. It can also help you accept feedback from others gracefully and use it to improve yourself.
Communication is the sister of leadership.
Communication is not only a tool for leadership but also a reflection of leadership. As John Adair, a British leadership scholar, and author, said: “Communication is the sister of leadership”. Your communication style reveals your leadership style, personality, and values. For example:
- Authoritative: An authoritative communication style is characterized by assertiveness, decisiveness, and control. It shows that you are confident, competent, and results-oriented as a leader.
- Democratic: A democratic communication style is characterized by openness, participation, and consensus. It shows that you are collaborative, inclusive, and supportive as a leader.
- Transformational: A transformational communication style is characterized by charisma, inspiration, and innovation. It shows that you are visionary, passionate, and creative as a leader.
How to improve your communication skills as a leader
Communication skills are not innate, but learned and developed over time. Here are some tips on how to improve your communication skills as a leader:
- Know your audience: Before you communicate with others, try to understand who they are, what they need, and what they expect from you. Tailor your message and delivery to suit their preferences and interests.
- Know your purpose: Before you communicate with others, try to define what you want to achieve from the communication. Have a clear goal and a clear message that supports your goal.
- Know your medium: Before you communicate with others, try to choose the most appropriate medium for your message. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of different mediums (such as face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, etc.), and select the one that best suits your purpose and audience.
- Know yourself: Before you communicate with others, try to be aware of your own communication style, strengths, and weaknesses. Seek feedback from others on how you communicate, and identify areas for improvement.
- Practice: The best way to improve your communication skills as a leader is to practice them regularly. Seek opportunities to communicate with different people in different situations. Observe how others communicate effectively or ineffectively. Learn from your own successes or failures.
Communication is an integral part of leadership. It can help you express your vision, influence others, build relationships, and receive feedback. It can also reveal your leadership style, personality, and values. To become a better leader, you need to communicate well. To communicate well, you need to know your audience, your purpose, your medium, and yourself. And to know these things, you need to practice and learn from your communication experiences.