Examine the world’s most inspiring leaders, what do they have in common?
They are motivating, they are articulate; they can comfortably speak in front of all audiences and are exceptionally passionate and trustworthy.
Are you noticing a pattern?
Great leaders are also great communicators.
Let’s look at communication a bit deeper. Some would argue it’s an art form, whereas others claim it’s a “soft-skill”, but in today’s evolving market, communication is becoming increasingly more valuable – especially for positions in leadership.
In fact, 65 per cent of hiring managers say that strong written or verbal communication is more important than a college graduate’s major.
So, how exactly does this fit in with leadership?
Communication goes far beyond sending an email. It means assessing the needs of your audience, addressing concerns, engaging with others, performing under pressure, supporting your argument and selling the benefits of your ideas.
It is the ability to communicate effectively that separates great leaders from big “talkers.”
There are three very important things that all inspiring leaders do:
- They Engage in Conversations
Think dialogue, not monologue! The best leaders are engaged and conversational. They get personal, ask questions, encourage honest discourse and speak candidly.
True leaders don’t bark commands. They encourage all voices to speak up and ask for input. It’s a leadership tactic that works.
One study from the Journal of Business and Psychology found that leaders who were charismatic and human-oriented were more communicative with their team. Alternatively, task-oriented leadership was generally associated with being less communicative.
Which team would you rather work on?
2. They Communicate with Clarity
Avoid complicated language! The best communicators keep their language simple and clear. The faster someone can understand what you’re saying, the faster you start seeing results.
It is critical for leaders to learn how to get to the point and hit the key points. People don’t have the time to decipher cryptic instructions or ask for clarification.
A 2014 report from the Project Management Institute names poor communication skills as one of the primary factors in project failure. In fact, 33 per cent of projects fail because of ineffective communication!
Specificity is always better than ambiguity. No one has ever complained that their manager was being too clear, right?
3. They Structure their Thoughts
When leaders speak, their audience expects them to be experts in their subject matter. Unfortunately, far too often our minds run quicker than our words and we ramble – a lot.
The best leaders use structure to organize their thoughts and ideas. They divide information into key points, areas of focus and present it in a way that is easy to absorb and remember.
A manager is someone you have to follow, whereas a leader is someone you want to follow.
Communication and leadership are deeply connected. The most influential leaders have a spoken command over their language and are capable of keeping their audience engaged, involved and respected. They are constantly engaging in conversation, speaking clearly and candidly and structuring their communication.
Simply put, it’s impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator.
By Ashley Denuzzo
McLuhan & Davies Communications