It takes many skills to be an effective leader. But arguably the most important trait for a leader is the ability to communicate effectively.
Effective leaders master the art and craft of language. They speak clearly and present logical and compelling arguments. They make wise use of communication tools and practices.
But skilled leaders also know that communication goes beyond words. According to the Center for Creative Leadership’s Gene Klann, your actions and attitude send powerful messages as well.
The three laws of leadership are communication, communication — and communication, Klann says. Effective communication lets team members know they are valuable, gives them emotional security, and is a significant part of the team bonding process.
At a very basic level, communication is the transmission of meaning between a sender and a receiver. But your attitude and actions give additional meaning to your spoken and written messages. Your behavior gives people information about your disposition, opinion or mood — regardless of the words you speak.
Klann believes that the way a leader communicates reveals much about his or her character. Communication can disclose the leader’s authenticity, sincerity and virtually every other aspect of a leader’s character. When a leader is all talk and no substance, people see right through the official message, Klann says.
To communicate your leadership character to others, you must be present, visible and available. Getting “out there” — consistently and predictably — lets others know what kind of leader you are. Shed all traces of detachment and arrogance and take the time to talk to your employees, Klann suggests.
Showing interest in and respect for your employees will help you make the emotional connection that is so important in effective leadership. It will show that you care about those being led and that you have an interest in the organization. It is also an effective way to get to know people as human beings and not simply as employees.
So what does a leader’s communication style say about his or her character? Listen to some other behaviors that effective leaders exhibit:
- They handle resistant audiences well.
- They listen to individuals from all levels of the organization.
- Effective leaders encourage direct and open discussion.
- They initiate difficult, but needed, conversations.
- They are clear about expectations and ask good questions.
- Effective leaders also involve others before developing a plan of action.
So think not only about your words, but also about your attitude and actions when dealing with your employees. It will make a huge difference in your relationships with them.