Do you need to enhance your leadership communication skills to be more inspirational?
How critical is communication for leadership success? It is everything.
Leadership and communication skills make the difference between someone who simply wields power and someone who leads. Strong leadership communication skills yield followers. A good follower is someone who willingly, happily, pulls their own weight and helps the team to move forward. Their motivation comes from their faith in the leader.
Leadership communication is continually changing; it is our job as communication coaches to stay informed on the evolution of communication for leadership success. In earlier years, words like “gravitas,” “charisma,” and “likability” were descriptors of what leaders looked and sounded like. We now know that leadership communication skills are neither vague nor intrinsic to any person’s person or personality. They are skills that can improve any situation and increase the morale of any team.
Step 1: Do you show that you believe in your team?
Communicate to your team your belief and your appreciation in their talents. A group email of “Hey team, good job. Thanks for your work. I believe in you.” will do very little. Do you know your team? Do you know what makes each of them shine?
Make all of those around you feel smart, appreciated, competent, successful, and high principled. Write down what you admire about your team. Some examples:
· Jaqui: nicest boss I have ever had. Positive, smart, successful, and advancing quickly through the company. Learning a lot from her.
· Johan: Delivers quality output, consistently. Independent.
· Maria: Open to feedback, learning quickly; great attention to detail.
· Sobia: Patient, kind, and motivating. Her mentoring of Lynn is helping with onboarding. Proactive; owns her work well, and makes time to mentor others.
Can you believe more in your team than they believe in themselves? People want to be around people who make them feel good. We love people who see our potential clearer than we see it ourselves.
If you communicate to your team exactly why they are strong, they will be motivated to deliver on those strengths. Good leadership and communication skills protect the team climate.
Step 2: Shine a Light on Others
If you have built team morale, that is, if everyone feels known and trusted, all they need is permission and encouragement to participate. Few folks like to be put on the spot, but nearly everyone wants to be relied upon to give their expertise and contribute their unique gifts.
Solicit team participation in ways that reinforce the positive faith you have in them.
1. “Cindy had a great idea…will you tell them about x?”
2. “Tyrone knows the most about that.”
3. “I want to hear from Ayanna and Marcus about that-- would you each weigh in?”
4. “Lee, tell everyone about the conversation we had with the client…”
5. “Asher, would you join us on the meeting? I would appreciate your perspective on X”
Your team members want to feel big. They want to feel needed, useful, valuable. Make them look great in front of your boss or leadership. This will help them trust you more, admire you, and follow you.
The next, and very important piece of soliciting engagement in action is making sure that it is done fairly. Use your communication for leadership success and create equality on your teams; give your encouragement equitably. Provide verbal support to members of the team that get interrupted or talked over. Model good listening and solicit the input of minorities. If you show respect and appreciation for everyone, they will be more likely to respect each other and bring their best to the team.
Step 3: Delegate clearly
One of the worst offenses a boss can make is micro-managing, which signals a lack of trust and typically means more work for everyone. A team who feels micromanaged will be low-motivated to do anything. Why try hard if the boss is just going to tear it apart anyway? A frequent and painful occurrence of micromanagement comes when a team believes they have ownership of a task, then the boss swoops near the deadline and demands massive changes. This is failed delegation--- what does good delegation look like?
Teach your team the system of KNOW, CAN, WANT, MEASURE.
1. Do they know what to do?
2. Can they do it?
3. Do they want to do it?
4. How will you measure it?
If you take the time to answer each of the KNOW, CAN, WANT, MEASURE questions, and address any gaps identified by them, you will be setting yourself up for true delegation. If there is a gap or an issue, can it be solved by motivation or guidance?
Is there a lack of information, skills, or willingness?
Are roles and responsibilities clear?
Does your team know what must be done? Is each member capable of doing their respective tasks; do they understand each others’ roles? Do they want the roles and tasks they have? Do they know what success looks like? Do they know the metrics on which their work will be judged?
Strong leadership communication requires clarity. If your team members understand their tasks, they will follow, on their own, in a timely manner. The much-sought-after “well oiled machine” or “tight ship” is only possible when leaders communicate expectations clearly while ensuring that workers have the resources they need to perform.
Step 4: Make it Explicit - Sometimes we need it spelled out!
Many workplaces struggle to find the most effective means of communicating, especially as technology and world events rapidly change our culture and circumstances. Should this be a meeting? If so, video or phone? Should this be an email? Does the email/meeting include all necessary parties? Is everyone on this email or meeting truly necessary?
Do you know your team members’ preferences on methods of communicating? Can you spot zoom fatigue? Can you measure call engagement? Do you require meetings to ‘walk folks through” a document, or can you trust them to read it?
You are unlikely to be able to accommodate all preferences all the time, but having a baseline understanding for what works for each person can help establish some routines. What is necessary? What is optimal? When do you need to see faces? When is real-time discussion needed? When is time to prepare one’s arguments and ideas helpful?
Most importantly, communicating to everyone the manner in which information will be exchanged, is necessary for anyone to perform well. What do you expect on a zoom call? On a phone meeting? How soon do you expect a slack chat reply? Does everyone understand expectations for language and formality on each form of discussion?
Here are some examples of what you could say to your team to do that:
After every client video meeting, we take a 10-minute bio break, then do a team call to plan next steps, due dates, and owners.
Please use this template for all email requests, and make sure that X, Y, and Z are always copied.
I have personal commitments every day 4-6 pm ET. What pressures do you have outside of work, that we can be sensitive to?
Finding the right medium, tone, and amount of time for different conversations is hard work; taking the time to establish and revise what is working best will set you apart as a thoughtful leader.
Good leaders do not have to force anything. With strong leadership and communication skills, team members feel valued, stay engaged, and contribute their best. With intelligence and hard work, most teams can function and complete projects. Add leadership communication to that equation and you have teams that thrive, enjoy their work, and they do more than complete projects-- they succeed.
Do you want to communicate with confidence and empathy and become an exceptional leader? Speak by Design offers a variety of private coaching and group training options to help you maximize your personal effectiveness through your communication. We are experts on personal style, message structure, and influencing strategies. We’ll improve the way you lead teams and drive change.
Contact Speak by Design to learn more. Tell us your dreams and goals for becoming an exceptional leader in 2021. We are committed to helping you get there.