There is more to great leadership than just being the most knowledgeable person in the room. Instead, great leaders are those that are able to connect and inspire those around them to create positive change. We have all been in meetings with great leaders or watched them give speeches within our organization that seem to truly connect with their audiences in a way that most others cannot. And while this may simply seem like a natural talent, great leadership communication skills are not simply something that someone is either born with or not. Communication skills like everything else can be developed over the course of one’s career to help them reach their career goals and effectively communicate along the way. Here are four pillars of excellent communication that every soon-to-be-great leader can develop to achieve their goals:
- Listen, listen, listen. We recently talked about how much the simple act of listening can improve leadership skills, especially in the hospital environment. More often than not, the person we are having a conversation with might jump in before we finish our sentence in anticipation of what they think we are going to say. However, strong leaders wait to hear the full question to make sure they have all the information before jumping to any conclusions about what they think someone might be trying to say. This also allows for the opportunity to pick up on something they might have missed otherwise as well as get all of the facts before responding.
- Understanding body language. While it’s true that verbal and written communication skills are essential for any good leader to be great, it is also true that having a strong understanding of body language can give leaders additional insight into how those around them are truly feeling, even when those thoughts are left unsaid. By being able to interpret body language, leaders are better equipped to gauge how honest or confident someone is in what they are saying to you in addition to the fact that you, the leader, are more in control of the message you are projecting with your body language during meetings, interviews, and daily conversations with staff members.
- Concise Verbal Communication. Let’s be honest, most people are not great at listening, especially in the workplace. Part of what differentiates great leaders from the good ones is that great leaders are captivating. They communicate clearly and effectively in such a way that their audiences want to pay attention. And while this may not be something that comes naturally to everyone, it is a skill that can be developed by all through practice. Outlining what you plan to say during a conversation, team meeting or interview is a great way to make sure you have your key talking points memorized and are able to effectively communicate what you want to say to your audience.
- And don’t forget written communication. In today’s world, it is almost more common to have a conversation via email or text than it is to have actual face-to-face dialogue. That is why great leaders have strong writing skills to convey their messages clearly and avoid those long email chains of confusion that seem to drag out when an email is not written clearly.
One example of concise email communication is:
“Sentence A: ‘After the morning meeting has been completed and everyone is dismissed, there will be a networking event with coffee and donuts for those of you who choose to attend.’
Sentence B: ‘After the morning meeting, we hope you’ll join us for coffee and donuts at the networking event’.”1 The second sentence is more concise and makes it easier for the reader to quickly understand the objective of the email.
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