It’s simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. It’s the ability to develop a keen external awareness that separates the truly great communicators from others. Exceptional communicators might talk about their ideas, but they do so in a way which also speaks to your emotions and your aspirations
Many leaders spend a majority of their time in some type of an interpersonal situation. A large number of organizational problems occur as a result of poor communications. So there’s a great need for leaders to become great communicators.
Great communicators have a heightened sense of awareness. They’re skilled at reading a person/group by sensing the moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns of those being communicated with. They possess the uncanny ability to adapt their messaging to the environment to meet the needs and the expectations of those they’re communicating with
How do you know when you’ve become an excellent communicator? Your interactions consistently use these principles:
1. Speak not with a forked tongue. When people sense a leader is worthy of their trust they will invest time and take risks in ways they never would if their leader had a reputation built upon poor character or lack of integrity. Trust is best created by earning it with right acting, thinking, and decisioning.
2. Get personal. The more personal and engaging the conversation is the more effective it will be. There is great truth in this: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
3. Get specific. Learn to communicate with clarity. Simple and concise is always better than complicated and confusing.
4. Focus on the leave-behinds not the take-aways. The best communicators are skilled at learning and gathering information while communicating, transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading their vision. Focus on the other party’s wants, needs and desires.
5. Have an open mind. A leader takes their game to a whole new level the minute they willingly seek out those who hold opposing positions and opinions with the goal of understanding what’s on their mind. It’s not the opinion that matters, but rather the willingness to discuss it with an open mind and learn.
6. Shut-up and listen. Great leaders know when to dial it up, dial it down, and dial it off. Simply broadcasting your message will not have the same result as engaging in meaningful conversation.
7. Replace ego with empathy. When candor is communicated with empathy and caring good things begin to happen. Empathetic communicators display a level of authenticity and transparency.
8. Read between the lines. In this age of instant communication, everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their mind that they fail to realize everything to be gained from the minds of others. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut and you’ll be amazed at how your level or organizational awareness is raised.
9. When you speak, know what you’re talking about. Develop a technical command over your subject matter. Good communicators address both the “what” and “how” aspects of messaging.
10. Speak to groups as individuals. Great communicators can tailor a message such that they can speak to 10 people in a conference room or 10,000 people in an auditorium and have them feel as if they were speaking directly to each one of them as an individual.
11. Be prepared to change the message if needed. Your objective must be in alignment with those you are communicating with. Use great questions, humor, stories, analogies, relevant data, and bold statements to help connect and gain the confidence and trust that it takes for people to want to engage.
Whenever you have a message to communicate make sure the message is true and correct, well reasoned, and substantiated by solid business logic that is specific, consistent, clear and accurate. Spending a little extra time on the front-end of the messaging curve will likely save you from considerable aggravation on the back-end. Communication is about helping others by meeting their needs, understanding their concerns, and adding value to their world.