A good leader can express his or her ideas, knowledge, opinions and strategies effectively. A good leader also does not work in isolation of others, but rather communicates and collaborates with fellow colleagues and employees.
Communication skills are an essential component of your leadership toolbox, as a leader not only needs to foster connections and value others who work toward the same organizational goals, but also needs to be convincing and clear about his or her unique contributions. Additionally, communication is one of the three core pillars of Executive Presence. According to the Executive Presence study published last year by the Center for Talent Innovation, there are “no small actions” when it comes to communication – meaning that everything you say and do will contribute to the overall message you send.
How can you communicate effectively, from the small-scale daily interactions to the large-scale messages? A few good communication practices can help you put your best ideas forward and foster constructive relationships with other professionals.
Presenting Your Best Self
Small Scale – Daily Interactions
- Most days, we compose dozens of emails. Each message will be most effective and memorable when the ideas are presented clearly and concisely, in well-organized sentences and paragraphs. Don’t disregard the “packaging” of a message as well: the use of proper titles, salutation, signatures and good grammar all contribute to the validity of your message and how convincing it can be.
- A one-on-one conversation may not be as decisive as a presentation or a speech, but the way you speak and carry yourself still matters before an audience of one. Clear speech, good posture and body language, and organized thoughts will make for a successful conversation.
Large Scale – Communicate to an Audience
- If you need to share your knowledge or thoughts with not one person but many others, you need to be well prepared to deliver a remarkable presentation or speech.Preparation is key – preparing slides and visuals, practicing not only what you say but how you say it, keeping watch on your tone of voice, body language and composure – will keep you relaxed and focused. When you are prepared and comfortable in your ideas, you will be able to “command a room,” an elemental quality of Executive Presence.
Collaboration through Communication
Small Scale – Working with Individuals
- When collaborating with employees, use your ears as much as your voice, if not more so. Those who work for you need to know that their input and contributions are valuable; otherwise they themselves may not feel like a valued employee.
- In giving and receiving feedback, always do so graciously. Providing criticism that is too harsh fails to be constructive, and accept any input on your own work with the objective to improve what you do.
Large Scale – Communicating to your Company
- If you don’t have the opportunity to interact on an individual basis with all of your employees, it does not mean that you should not communicate with them. Find ways to connect with your employees and keep them informed, such as company newsletters, networking opportunities or recognition events.
- It is important for the work of an organization’s employees to reflect the mission and vision of that company. As a leader, it is up to you to ensure the mission and vision are communicated effectively and that employees form a robust understanding of the objectives of the organization. Find creative ways to share the vision of your organization with employees, so they grasp and appreciate the “why” of your company.
Effective communication incorporates both the ability to present yourself and your knowledge well, and to collaborate professionally with those around you. Strong communication skills in both regard will make you a strong leader.