The communication skill set is widely regarded as vital to the success of a business leader. Specific skills within the area of communication, however, serve their own purposes. Top communicators are typically good at balancing their roles in message delivery as well as in receipt.
Active Listening Skills
Active listening is one of the most effective communication skills for leaders, according to The Ken Blanchard Companies, which compiles numerous leadership studies. Great leaders listen first to understand a situation, key factors and challenges in a given situation. When participating in meetings, an effective leader listens to the input and ideas of others. Listening not only allows you to hear and glean insights, it also shows genuine interest and concern for the other person. In one-on-one situations, leaders build rapport with their employees by paying attention to details in casual conversation as well as listening to work-related feedback.
Technology enables many different, and often more efficient, pathways to communication in an organization. In some cases, leaders need to distribute messages electronically. However, face-to-face interaction remains one of the most effective ways to ensure accurate message delivery. An effective leader shares personal praise with a worker to signify the importance of an accomplishment. Addressing problems and concerns through interpersonal engagement also ensures you have the attention of the employee. Interpersonal exchanges create opportunities for back-and-forth conversations and interpretation of nonverbal gestures.
Intuition and Alertness
In some cases, unspoken messages influence communication as much as or more than words. Reading body language is a key communication ability for great leaders, reports The Ken Blanchard Companies. Leaders who recognize gestures and subtle mannerisms may pick up on things that less-aware leaders miss. Closely connected is the ability to intuitively sense what nonverbal gestures mean. When an employee crosses her arms, purses her lip or demonstrates other nervous habits, the good communicator may identify a contradiction to what is being verbalized. This recognition helps a leader address unspoken problems and gauge the real motives of an employee's actions.
Articulation, Clarity and Conciseness
When presenting information or attempting to persuade or motivate, good communicators are articulate, clear and concise. They speak with a crisp but relaxed pace and emphasize important words and phrases. Conciseness helps protect against key points being diluted by less important comments or phrases. Clarity refers to a leader's ability to present specific and direct points and avoid vague or ambiguous comments. In an evaluation, for instance, you might say, "Jon, I need you to get to work by your scheduled time from now on." This approach is much more direct and clear than, "Jon, it would be great if you could work a little harder to get here on time or at least as soon as possible."
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