Let’s begin with understanding the role of communication skills in effective leadership.
Good leaders can think clearly, express ideas to others, and communicate effectively with a multitude of audiences.
Effective communication is such an important part of business leadership, that the absence of good communication can cost companies money.
A 2013 survey of 400 companies, each with more than 100,000 employees found that ineffective communication costs companies an average of $62.4 million each year.
If you are part of a leadership team in your organization, understanding the challenges you must overcome with business communication will help you grow as your career progresses.
Why is Communication Important in Leadership?
Leaders inspire and empower people to take action and move towards achieving objectives. The most important tool a leader has is communication. By communicating effectively, leaders ensure people receive information and act upon it appropriately. To be a successful leader, you must have mastery of spoken, written, and non-verbal communication. Ineffective communication creates barriers and impediments to progress towards business goals.
Best Practices for Effective Communication
What are some of the characteristics of good communication in business leadership? Below, we’ve listed thirteen of the top ways managers and leaders can communicate with their teams, partners, and colleagues.
Know Your Audience
Good leaders know the audience they are speaking to, and tailor their communication to make their message resonate effectively. The ability to connect with and communicate with employees, customers, partners, and stakeholders is a special skill. Each of these groups has different self-interests and anticipating their needs and building rapport with each of them takes preparation, clarity, and empathy.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Part of communication is doing the work ahead of time to prepare what you have to say and understand the situation. Familiarize yourself with the context around a situation and find out what people on the other side are thinking. When the issue is complex, dig and research the intricate nuances and different positions, so you can address them, and overcome any objections.
Empathy is the ability to share the thoughts and emotions of others. Many people believe empathy is perhaps the top leadership skill for success. The more you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and demonstrate that you understand how they feel, the more likely they will be to listen to you. Above all, empathetic business leaders make decisions that benefit the team.
Storytelling is a particularly effective way of communicating. By giving life to a goal or business objective, you create a narrative in the minds of the listener, helping them understand the situation. The best storytellers capture the hearts and minds of their audience, communicating through imagery, words, quotes, or anecdotes to make a point. By using storytelling, you can become a more effective and authentic business communicator.
Clarity Above Complexity
Messages are most effective when they are clear and to the point. Speak in specific details and say exactly what you mean. Relying on overly verbose and generalized messages makes business communication more difficult. Be clear and reduce confusion. Your teammates want to know exactly what you require to meet the target goals.
Use Open-Ended Questions
Using phrases like “Can you tell me more about that?” or “Explain what you mean” encourage dialogue. Open-ended questions elicit a thought-out response that goes into more detail. This is better for two-sided communication than questions that can be answered with a concise Yes or No.
Paying attention to what other people are saying is an integral part of good communication. Engaging conversations are a two-way street. Everyone wants to feel like they are listened to and heard. If you are merely waiting for your chance to speak, people can sense that. Actively listen to what your colleagues are saying, and your communication will be more efficient and productive.
Non-verbal clues are an important part of good communication. People will be more receptive to your message if they feel comfortable around you. Open body language, such as eye contact, head nodding to show interest, and relaxed body language can make people feel more engaged with you during conversations. Showing an authentic smile helps people feel a rapport with you during business communication.
Set Clear Expectations
Interpersonal relationships in a professional setting are built on clear expectations of what is expected from all participants. Your colleagues and teammates deserve to have clear, measurable goals and know what is expected of them, and what you will do to support their work. Whether you are communicating with a large group, a small team, or an individual, be sure to make expectations crystal clear.
Transparency helps break down barriers in communication and performance within an organization. Employees need to know what their company’s policies and goals are, so they stay motivated and productive. When a leader shows transparency about the goals of the company, it helps build trust and rapport between management and employees.
Encourage Input and Feedback
Good business leaders aren’t afraid to receive feedback from their colleagues, peers, and stakeholders. There may be other insights and opinions that you must consider before making a business decision. Team members need to know their insight and expertise is valued, or they will stop contributing. By encouraging open communication, showing empathy, and practicing active listening, you can get ideas and input from employees and partners. This helps build trust and mutual respect between leadership and a team.
Back up Your Words with Action
Though your words and messages may be crafted with skill and finesse, your actions are what people watch. Your communication extends beyond the written and spoken word. You must follow through with what you say you are going to do, or your credibility will be worthless. Align your actions with the rest of your messages to make sure people respect you a person and a leader.
Get Ready to Start Your Business Career
Campus.org, in partnership with MTI College, has an online business administration degree program that will help give you the training you need to begin your business career.
This online Business Administration degree program gives students the skills they need to succeed in the modern business world.
For more information, click the link below. We look forward to helping you prepare for an exciting career in business.