Great Leaders Need to be Great Communicators
by Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner Wray Executive Search
In any leadership role you must be able to convey your ideas and vision in ways that drive effective decision-making, teamwork, and action. The greatest leaders motivate and inspire their team through clear communication, while also promoting discipline, accountability and strategic alignment. The sharing of information is exceedingly important to an organization and often becomes more cumbersome with growth. Senior executives need to set the example by communicating information, being as transparent as possible, and establishing trust. Leadership, no matter the level, is steeped in the ability to communicate effectively. For executives, it is as much a prerequisite for the C-suite as a refined business skillset or the ability to see the bigger picture.
Today, the common executive skillset is changing because communication is changing. The rise of remote teams, hybrid workforces and digital-first operations has changed the way the business world interacts. It is vital for executives to also adapt, so they can lead from the top down. A leader is someone who inspires positive, incremental change by empowering those around them to work toward common objectives. A leader’s most powerful tool for doing so is communication.
Effective communication is vital to gain trust, align efforts in the pursuit of goals, and inspire positive change. When communication is lacking, important information can be misinterpreted, causing relationships to suffer and, ultimately, creating barriers that hinder progress. Effective leaders know when they need to talk and, more importantly, when they need to listen. Show that you care by asking for employees’ opinions, ideas, and feedback. And when they do share, actively engage in the conversation, pose questions and invite them to elaborate.
It is important to stay in the moment and avoid interrupting. Keep your focus on the employee and what it is they are saying. To achieve that, you also need to eliminate any distractions, including constant pings on your cell phone or checking incoming emails.
Transparency can go a long way in breaking down that communication barrier. By speaking openly about the company’s goals, opportunities, and challenges, leaders can build trust amongst their team and foster an environment where employees feel empowered to share their ideas and collaborate. Just acknowledging mistakes can encourage experimentation and create a safe space for active problem-solving.
When communicating with team members, speak in specifics. Define the desired result of a project or strategic initiative and be clear about what you want to see achieved by the end of each milestone. If goals are not being met, try simplifying your message further or ask how you can provide additional clarity. The clearer you are, the less confusion there will be around priorities. Team members will know what they are working toward and feel more engaged in the process.
Communication is not just what you say but how you carry yourself. To ensure you are conveying the right message, focus on your body language. If you are trying to inspire someone, make eye contact to establish interest and rapport and flash a genuine smile to convey warmth and trust. Communication is at the core of effective leadership. If you want to influence and inspire your team, you need to practice empathy and transparency, and understand how others perceive you, through your verbal and non-verbal cues.
Good leaders know how to ask great questions, and then listen with both their eyes and ears. It is easy to be so focused on getting your message out, or persuading others, that you don’t tune in to what you see and hear.
Because you are in a position of authority, you won’t always get direct feedback. You will need to both listen to what is being said and study non-verbal cues such as body language to tell you what you need to know. Being empathetic means that you can identify and understand others’ emotions, imagining yourself in someone else’s position. Being empathetic shows your team that you care.
As a leader, great communication is critical not just to provide details about the objectives and vision of what you are trying to accomplish, but also to motivate, inspire and manage relationships to move people in a desired direction.
When in a leadership position, we must realize that the spotlight is always on us. Everything we say and do is being scrutinized, for better or for worse. Words and actions can become habits and habits contribute to defining our character. Leadership is a privilege that must be earned every day.
Stay well! Lead well!
All the best,
Bob Gershberg |CEO|Managing Partner|
(888) 875-9993 ext 102
Finding tomorrow’s leaders today!