“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” ~ Peter Drucker
A great leader must be able to connect with people by communicating intangible qualities that words alone cannot convey. Leaders need to be able to influence the performance of others, to motivate and inspire them. This demands top-notch communication skills to deliver organized, concise, crisp messages that inform and motivate others.
Here are five tips on how to develop leadership communication skills:
- Take charge of the environment
Establish an open environment for effective two-way communication. Set an example for communication not just between you and your team, but among your team as well. Communicate early and often. Give the information you have, be clear about the information you want, and the format in which you want it. Be available to talk to your team, and to listen. As a leader you must model and create the team’s environment through skilled, careful communication.
- Use short words to get and keep attention
Longer, complex, or unfamiliar words may distract from your message. Short, familiar words are easier to understand and remember. Don’t make your listener work to understand you.
- Use compelling metaphors to make a lasting impression
Metaphors create compelling images that are both easily remembered and can be inspirational. Paint a vivid picture for your listener using effective metaphors that your listeners can relate to.
Active listening may be the most important communication skill of all. Respect the person who is speaking to you by your attention to their words, making eye contact, and occasionally paraphrasing what they have just told you, so they feel that you “get” what they are saying.
- Hone your delivery skills
Your words are important, but how you deliver those words determines if you are perceived as a leader. Is your body language in harmony with your words? Posture, eye connection, vocal tone, and gestures all contribute to the overall impression people have of you.
Developing leadership communication skills to the point where they become automatic requires practice, and feedback from others. You can practice at home, or with colleagues, but for long-term behavior change, we recommend at least some work with professional communication consultants, like our team at ProComm. You can find our next open enrollment program here, or we can set up one of our programs in-house for your team.
Keep challenging yourself to learn and grow as a leader. The example you set by always challenging yourself to learn will create an environment where people can expand their capabilities and grow professionally.