The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important traits a leader can have. Expressing ideas and sharing information in the right way with appropriate audiences is key to motivating staff, building team cohesion, and maintaining healthy working relationships.
According to a report from employee communications platform Smarp, three-quarters of employees see effective communication as the number one leadership attribute. However, less than one-third of employees think their leaders communicate efficiently. It’s clear that employees value clear communication, but many leaders are falling short.
Consistently communicating well is an ongoing challenge for any leader; it’s a skill that requires experience, practice, and a certain level of creativity. However, with the right mindset and strategies, becoming a great communicator is within anyone’s reach.
Benefits of Effective Communication
Reassuring and inspiring employees is key to improving team cohesion and alleviating workplace anxiety. For this reason, the most successful leaders nurture a culture of transparent communication, where employees have access to all the information they need to perform effectively, both individually and collectively.
By clearly communicating the company’s values, mission, and goals, employees understand the future direction of the business and are more invested in its success. Ultimately, this increases employee job satisfaction, boosts team morale, and helps to build a high-performance work culture.
Effective communication essentially increases employee engagement levels, resulting in improved performance and productivity. According to a report by research organization Gallup, companies with a highly engaged workforce have 21 percent higher profitability. When employees understand what is expected of them and feel a greater sense of purpose, it reduces wasteful work activities and encourages individuals to prioritize the most important tasks.
Additionally, by communicating effectively from the outset, leaders can spend more time on high-priority tasks, instead of wasting valuable time elaborating what they’re trying to say.
While different leaders have different personal qualities and leadership styles, there are certain traits that are common to the majority of effective communicators:
Generally speaking, the most effective leaders are authentic communicators. In short, this means that they communicate honestly and transparently, and are true to their own style and beliefs.
When leaders find their own voice and come across as authentic, people are more likely to respect their opinions and follow their lead. Being more genuine also leads to stronger bonds with employees and promotes a culture of openness and respectful collaboration. This authenticity can be strengthened by avoiding complex language and ensuring messages are brief and direct. In virtual settings, being concise when communicating is especially important.
2. Positive Attitude
Leaders should also keep in mind that communicating effectively goes beyond just words. The way leaders behave through their attitude and actions provides information that is constantly being picked up by employees. This is why simple gestures such as eye contact, nodding, and smiling play such an important role in reassuring and inspiring employees.
Positive body gestures can go a long way when it comes to making others feel more comfortable and confident in the workplace. By physically showing confidence and positivity, leaders can inspire others to behave similarly, which fosters an optimistic, collaborative, and supportive workplace environment.
Being a visible leader is not just about physical presence; it’s about being more accessible and getting involved in the everyday work life of employees. Instead of only communicating via emails, meetings, and formal announcements, it’s crucial that leaders make time to regularly meet with employees in their personal working environments. Getting to know people on a more personal level allows leaders to understand how individuals feel about their position in the company. This information can then be used to find ways to help them perform more efficiently in their roles.
While scheduling regular meetings with team leaders continues to be important, less formal meetings — such as coffee chats — are golden opportunities to connect with employees and gather feedback.
Listening to feedback also minimizes mistakes that are caused by communication breakdowns. Sometimes, messages are not received correctly or can get lost in translation. It’s crucial that leaders carefully listen to feedback and take action — when appropriate — to address employee concerns. Encouraging honest feedback from employees not only builds trust, but it also makes employees feel more empowered in their roles and increases the chances of finding more efficient ways of working.
Recognizing employee achievements is another crucial element of effective communication. In one study, 69 percent of employees stated that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Put simply, acknowledging good performance goes a long way to motivating employees and boosting productivity.
Communicating through the wrong channels can undermine messages and even damage credibility, so communication strategies need to be adjusted according to the context. For example, a mass email announcement on a major company policy change may come across as unsympathetic and insensitive. When the day-to-day experiences of employees are going to be severely impacted, in-person meetings are essential.
What’s more, different people have different preferences for how they send and receive communication. The most effective leaders spend more time getting to know every employee and then adapt to the communication preferences of each individual. Some employees respond better to regular one-on-one check-ins and informal conversations, whereas others are more inspired by group meetings and detailed email messages. Ultimately, messages need to be tailored to the specific audience through a blend of the most appropriate channels.
The most successful leaders understand the importance of communicating efficiently and fine-tuning their communication strategies to meet the needs of the situation and the people involved. While some leaders are naturally good communicators, it’s a skill that can be developed and perfected over time.
Whether it’s in a one-on-one conversation, in a large group meeting, or via the written word, communicating well is one of the greatest strengths of any leader. It’s a skill that goes beyond just relaying information. Effective leaders communicate at the right time and through the right channels, adapt their messages to their audience, and get their ideas across concisely. As a result, they are able to motivate individuals, inspire teams, and build a more cohesive working environment that boosts productivity and supports business growth.
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