Being a workplace leader doesn’t guarantee that you’re an excellent communicator, but if you’re a great communicator, then you’re likely a solid leader. Communication is one of the most important skills any leader must possess, but all too often, we spend little time developing and enhancing this vital soft skill because it doesn’t offer immediate, tangible value.
However, communication plays a role in nearly every aspect of your job —from negotiating with clients to delegating tasks to your team, there’s probably not a single day that goes by in which you’re not actively communicating with other people. Even if you never took a class on communicating however, there are a few ways you can still brush up on your communication skills in a leadership role:
Listen to Others
One of the most important aspects of leadership-oriented communication doesn’t involve speaking at all: it’s listening to others’ ideas and feedback, even if you disagree with them. The best leaders are good at active listening, which means genuinely engaging with what another person is saying, demonstrating interest and concern for them, posing thoughtful questions, and waiting for them to finish before injecting your input into the discussion.
It’s the ability to engage with employees (without interrupting them) that separates the average leaders from the truly great leaders. Just because you’re in a position of superiority doesn’t always mean your ideas are the best, so take the time to listen to your employees to see what new ideas and strategies they might come up with.
Be Specific and Clear
There’s nothing worse for an employee struggling to complete a task than to have too little guidance from their manager. If they don’t know exactly what objective they’re striving towards and how to fulfill that objective, then chances are they’ll be pretty inefficient in the process and might even produce flawed results. To avoid this, it’s your job as a workplace leader to clearly specify your expectations and respond promptly whenever your employee seeks additional guidance. “Just do it” might work for Nike, but it isn’t a good leadership motto.
Avoid Indefinite Uncertainty
Similar to the issue of lacking clarity, shrugging off your employees’ questions or concerns can lead to serious problems down the line. Phrases like “it doesn’t matter,” “I’m not sure,” “that’s not my job,” and even “maybe” should be eliminated from your leadership vocabulary so you can emphasize consistently clear communication above all else.
Instead of saying “I’m not sure,” briefly explain how you’ll try to resolve the issue. Instead of saying, “it doesn’t matter,” explain what the most important goals of a project or task are and leave the rest up to your employee’s discretion, so long as those key objectives are fulfilled.