Essential Communication Skills for Leaders
How strong are your communication skills?
Leaders continue to assume greater responsibilities and pressures as markets and technologies call for increasingly faster commerce, responses and results. Information overload and business volatility have become the norm, requiring nimble management and staff interconnection. Leadership success depends on a most essential professional skill: strategic communication.
Task completion and organizational achievement demand peak-level communication. A leader’s fundamental role is to be an excellent communicator and a proponent for a communication-based culture. Organizations led by great communicators are far more likely to prosper, especially when faced with onerous challenges.
Unfortunately, I see too many organizations hampered by leaders who fail to grasp the power of good communication (or discount its importance). Some leaders consider information to be communication in and of itself, but it’s really just data. Communication is the ability to convey information strategically—the very core of leadership, affirms executive coach Dianna Booher in Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2017).
Leaders develop and use communication—a soft skill—to work with others, recognizing that success relies on unity and collaboration. When combined with the traditional hard skills of quantitative analysis and decision-making, communication rounds out a leader’s ability to bring people together and achieve high performance. A lack of communication causes multiple obstructions, debilitations and failures, as Booher notes:
In survey after survey, managers report that their team understands organizational goals and initiatives. Yet team members themselves say they do not. In a recent worldwide Gallup poll among 550 organizations and 2.2 million employees, only 50 percent of employees "strongly agreed" that they knew what was expected of them at work. Obviously, there's a disconnection here.
How to avoid disconnection and move towards unity and harmony are leadership commitments that separate high functioning organizations from the competition. These areas of leadership align with purposeful biblical leadership. Leaders must therefore master three essential skills to avoid these disconnects:
Communicating deliberately – remember less is more.
“Even a fool when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.” Proverbs 17:28
“It is the same for you. If you speak to people in words they do not understand, how will they know what you are saying. You might as well be talking into an empty space.” 1Corn 14:9
Communicating by adding value
“Whatever your task, put yourself into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance in your reward; you serve the Lord Christ” Colossians 3:23-24
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