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Leadership Strategies: Skill 1 - Communication

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence … When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’ - Lao Tzu.

You cannot hope to become an effective leader without proper, clear, and concise communication.

Communication is your best tool for explaining your ideas, setting expectations, and building your team. This sectionwill discuss why practical communication skills are essential for leaders and share some tips about communicating effectively in writing and person.

The Importance of Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is what builds relationships. If you listen to employees complain about their bosses and employers, one of the top issues they are dealing with is a lack of a direct and clear channel of communication.

Of course, communication goes both ways. But, as a leader, it is your job to set the tone for interaction within your organization or team.

Effective communication:

Minimizes misunderstandings and confusion

Ensures that team members know what you expect

Encourages communication among team members

Increases the chances that you will reach your goals

Any time you be in contact with your team or with a client, you are using communication skills. That means every phone call, every meeting, every chat, and every email reflects your ability to communicate and keep a pulse on how projects are going.

Tips for Effective Communication in Writing and Off the Cuff

You cannot be a leader and ask other people to follow you unless you know how to follow. - Sam Rayburn

What makes for effective communication? The hallmarks of effective communication are clarity, detail, and honesty.

Clarity means that you must be able to articulate what you want in a way that the person you are talking to can understand. You are not communicating effectively if the listener or reader cannot know what you need or expect from them.

Detail means that you are specific about what you want, expect, or need to know. If you delegate a task and the team member still has questions about what to do or how to do the job, your communication skills have fallen short.

Honesty means that you must be truthful when communicating with your team. That does not mean you need to tell them everything you are thinking all the time, but it does mean that you cannot mislead them or deliberately omit information that might help them achieve the goals you have laid out for the team.

Here are a few tips for communicating effectively:

In writing, keep your sentences and paragraphs short

Think about what you say before you say it

Always keep your audience in mind. Do not use jargon unless you are sure they will understand it

Pay attention to how the listener reacts to what you say

Be available to answer questions and be patient while you do it

These tips will help you communicate effectively and enhance your leadership ability.

Coming up next, we will talk about why you must be adaptable if you want to become a great leader. Leadership Strategies: Skill 2 - Adaptability

You have heard about the survival of the fittest. The principle tells us that only those who can manage change and cope with adversity survive. In other words, adaptability is necessary – and it can mean the difference between success and failure in your business.

In this section, we will talk about why great leaders must be adaptable and provide some tips about how you can increase your adaptability and learn to go with the flow.

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