In previous blogs, I’ve discussed two traits of an exceptional leader: honesty and confidence. Along with being honest and confident, an exceptional leader must be an effective communicator. Communication is the key to success, especially in leadership. How does one communicate effectively? Verbal and non-verbal skills coupled with the ability to listen and adapt your style make an effective communicator.
Clear communication increases the likelihood that people will not only comprehend, but also take action on whatever it is you are asking of them. A leader should always over-explain something rather than under-explain and leave room for misunderstanding. Whenever a leader is delivering an assignment or asking a task of someone, they should focus on providing simple and specific instructions. There are other aspects to communication but verbal communication is crucial in being an exceptional leader.
Just as important as verbal communication, if not more, is non-verbal communication. Nonverbal cues include facial expressions, use of hand motions, body posture and eye movements. Leaders should strive to always match their nonverbal cues to their words; when they do so, they are more believable and trustworthy. The way you listen, look, move, and react tells the other person whether or not you care, if you’re being truthful or not, and the extent to which you’re listening. When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you’re saying, they increase trust, clarity, and rapport. When they don’t, the opposite occurs. Poor nonverbal signs can generate tension and mistrust. Building trust between yourself and your employees is crucial in the success of your business.
Ability to Listen
Communication is a constant two-way street that consists of talking and listening. The listening side of communication is just as important, if not more important than the speaking side. An exceptional leader is an active listener as well. This means that he or she is focused on the person who is speaking, and only that person. Effective leaders ignore distractions, such as a ringing phone or a lingering thought. Employees know when they are being heard and it leads to a more trusting relationship.
As a leader, you will encounter a myriad of different people, both customers and employees. And every single person will respond to communication differently. This is why it is pivotal that a leader can adapt his or her communication style. Throughout the day, you will go from communicating with a shy introvert to an overly enthusiastic go-getter. Exceptional leaders understand when and how to adapt their own communication style in order to make the most out of every interaction.
On the road to becoming an exceptional leader, you will need to hone many skills. The importance of communication skills cannot be overstated. Pay attention to not only your verbal delivery, but your non-verbal cues. Be prepared to do more listening than speaking and adapt your style based on who you are communicating with. Exceptional leaders are also exceptional communicators, so get started today!