We place a lot of emphasis on processes and systems, and rightly so, because they can make or break a company or a team. But, when we’re looking to take our company to a higher level, inspire a vision and lead people under a common mission – processes and systems can only take us so far. So, how can we grow beyond this? The answer is that we need to be better communicators.
Leaders are more than just bosses; they are the people who communicate the long term vision for the company at every level. They show us our part in that vision and how we can all get there if we work together.
“For an effective manager, it is obligatory to ensure persuasion, responsibility, premeditated association, creating and managing value system and to provide support and motivation to his teams. A manager is capable to accomplish all this by effective leading, sound planning, monitoring and communicating. Among these mention factors perfect and precise communication is of utmost importance. It is a manager’s communication skills which motivate and inspire teammates to work hard and achieve team targets and organisational goals as well.” – Anchal Luthra and Richa Dahiya
Do people know your values?
Leaders have to learn how to communicate their values. The act of promoting and articulating your values creates greater cohesion and autonomy among teams and workers. When everyone clearly understands what the organisational values are, they can make effective decisions within that value structure, and they can do it with confidence.
Communication is not about talking
Being an effective communicator doesn’t mean being a great talker. More often, it’s about being a great listener and using your expertise and problem solving skills to craft an intentional response. Communication is always a two-way street, you need to listen more than you talk, ask lots of questions and truly understand something before drawing any conclusions. Great communication is the elimination of assumptions, it's being focused and intentional with our words, and more importantly, our actions.
When a leader is a great communicator, their people are encouraged and stimulated, their team knows their set of principles, and they act in a way that is accountable to those principles. Tasks become more fluid and teams check in with each other to ensure that things are moving forward.
Leaders will spend about 80% of their time in meetings and interacting with their teams or in-group. So, a huge portion of their job lays in the ability to communicate well.
The 3 approaches to communication
Effective communication is about being intentional with your verbal and written, words, having a strategy to approach important topics, and being a source of inspiration and encouragement for the team.
There are main 3 approaches of effective communication that leaders need to master in they want to be great:
The Core Approach
Includes writing and speaking. This is essential in leading and managing bigger groups or teams.
Expressive cultural understandings, listening patiently, team management and team meetings, providing training facilities and mentoring.
The Corporate Approach
Maintain employee relations, communication during change and crises, media associations and image building. For an organisation, the biggest challenge is to win the trust of their employees, business partners and customers.
The 3 approaches are a kind of ladder that leaders can climb as they become better communicators. As leaders become more effective, they can take on more responsibility and increase their strategy to include a broader circle of influence in their organisation. They key is to start from the fundamentals; make sure that your written and verbal communication is great, then move on to focussed listening, then put yourself to the test by using your communication skills during high pressure situations.
How to practice being a great communicator
Here are some ways to improve your communication and take your leadership skills to the next level:
Model the behaviours that you want to promote
Ask questions, even when you think that you know the answer
Where possible, lead people to the answer so they can figure it out themselves instead of just telling them
Talk about the ‘why’ as often as possible so that you can tie actions and tasks to the main vision
Use informal and formal approaches
Be creative, engaging and fun
Identify body language cues
Be intentional with your verbal and written words
Be attentive to what inspires people
Add in some encouragement in your messaging