Often, I’m asked which communication skills for leadership are the most important. A companion question is frequently about a recommended list of communication skills. My answers to these questions are often: “Well, it depends. Let’s talk about you and your organization.”
In this blog series, we have already talked about the importance of communication in leadership and the role of communication in leadership. Both of those are pretty broad concepts. Once you have them nailed down, you should start to see your organization, and the communication within it, up leveling toward world class. So, now we start to look at communication in a more granular way.
I can’t say that there is a checklist or a certain number of skills every leader should possess or work to improve; after all, we all start from a different place. A skill you might be fantastic with, someone else might be struggling even to be proficient at. This is where working with a coach can help you determine where your assets lie and where you might have a few blind spots. However, there are a few communication skills that even gold-medal winning communicators can continue to work on.
I mentioned this one in an earlier post, but it’s helpful to bring it up again. The core of this skill goes back to our foundational corner stone of intentional communication. In every communication, strive to be intentional and not reactive. How many stories have you heard about the person who quickly and reactively replies to a testy email, only to turn up the fire or make a situation worse? Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. Reacting rather than responding rarely will bring the positive long-range results you’re striving for. Press the pause button.
A friend of mine who has been in recovery for more than thirty years has a wonderful saying that I believe was picked up in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Take the cotton out of your ears and stick it in your mouth.” What a great visual image that reminds us to listen. Formulate a plan for communication based on what you learn by listening to your team and then be intentional in how your communication works toward a goal of alignment of your team around a shared vision of what you want to accomplish.
Consistency is the muscle we need to be working every day to improve (ironically, a little meta). Consistency applies to many facets of communication and that is where a coach or trusted friend can help you improve this important skill.
I could write about communication skills for leadership every day for a year and only scratch the surface. How are you doing with your communication skills? Reach out and let’s discuss how you’re doing and how I can support you on your path to improving your communication and leadership skills. Until next time, have a healthy and enjoyable week.