Communication skills training is critical to good leadership, yet less than one third of people polled feel their leaders actually communicate effectively.Here are four simple rules you can follow that will improve the quality of your communication significantly. One thing you will note is how all four of these rules fall on the shoulders of the leader who is communicating.
Be relevant in your communication.
We have all heard “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” If the words that are about to come out or your mouth, pen or keys will not add value to the person they are directed at, then perhaps keeping them to yourself is the best form of communication. Silence is golden when the words you are considering will land like a led ballon on the heart of the hearer. Speak with words that will build up, encourage, strengthen and make wiser the hearer. Be certain that the information you have prepared for the hearer makes sense, not to you, but to them.
Gain ownership of your material.
Trying to deliverer information that you are not familiar with before hand can lead to great confusion. I remember my first graded speech in high school speech class. I prepared and delivered a speech about the scarce number of pregnant teens who receive “parental care.” To my chagrin, while in the process of delivering the speech, I stumbled across a misspelled word in my own written outline. I had accidentally spelled parental wrong and the word became prenatal. That was not the most embarrassing part. Upon further review, my entire speech was NOT ABOUT PARENTAL CARE – The article I chose to write my content from was actually about the scarcity of PRE-NATAL care received by pregnant teens. That was humiliating. Now I know my limits, I work more diligently to know my source material, my content and my ability to comprehend and deliver that content. Leaders are responsible for the content they communicate. It is best if we speak from the depth of experience we have reached on our own course in life.
Speak with authority.
Second guessing yourself, speaking with trepidation, and weak delivery can cause significant lack of trust in followers. Imagine the movie Braveheart when the battle was about to begin. If that speech and cry for freedom had been delivered in a quivering voice or in the form of a question, who would have rallied to the charge? Would you follow a leader to battle, to market or even across the street who questions their own ability? Would you risk your career for a maybe? Do you feel invincible when encouraged by your leaders? Do you offer that courage, will, motivation and power to your team? Do you know your stuff well enough to speak with full authority?
Be responsible to the feelings of your audience.
Are your instructions executable? Have you placed an undue burden on the hearer by the emotions created in your comments or evaluation? It is hard to motivate a team of people who do not understand your instructions because they are irrelevant. It is inspired vagary to lead a team with information, wisdom and guidance that has not been tested and proven. It is frightening to lead a team when the leader is frightened by the possible risks, rewards, outcomes, consequences and who lacks the confidence to communicate authoritatively. It is near impossible to continue to lead a team when you have broken their will, broken their hearts and left them fearful of your command. I have worked for leaders whose communication style and attitude was so demeaning, destructive and disrespectful in tone and delivery that the words they used were nothing more than a vapor of good intention. Even when they believed they were bringing a compliment or good news, no one could hear the positive words for the negative nature of the deliverer.
I often tell my clients “Communication is attitude is communication!” How you say what you say is a reflection of the who that you are. Good leaders are good communicators who are deeply concerned about the feelings of the listener as much as they are the results of the communication.
“Ketchum Leadership Communications Monitor, a global study that polled 6,500 people in 13 countries.
Looking at leaders in business, government, community service, trade/labor unions and the not-for-profit sector, only 22% of those surveyed feel leaders are demonstrating effective leadership – down from 25% last year – with just 13% scoring leaders strongly on accountability when things go wrong. Additionally, less than a third (30%) believe that leadership is based on clear values and just 17% are optimistic about seeing any improvement in leadership over the coming year.
The research found that open, transparent communication is the top-ranking attribute, with 74% viewing it as very important to great leadership. Yet only 29% feel leaders communicate effectively, with a 22 point gap between expectation and delivery.
Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals.”