By Sheila Kloefkorn
Sheila Kloefkorn is CEO/President of KEO Marketing, Inc. Questions about how to turbocharge your marketing or communication strategy? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her at LinkedIn | Web
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. More work is remote and leading teams can be a challenge. In 2021, clear and effective communication is more important than ever. Having good communication skills will benefit you in all areas of your life, most obviously in your professional and personal relationships.
Leading through communication requires more than just listening and responding to team members, though that’s a great place to start.
What Is Your Communication Strategy as a Leader?
Leadership requires constant improvement, self-evaluation, and goal setting. The same could be said for communication. It’s not a one-and-done activity. Effective communication strategies should become parts of your everyday life.
In an interview with ADP, Amy Leschke-Kahle, VP of Performance Acceleration at The Marcus Buckingham Company, says this about leadership: “If you can say ‘I see you, I know you,’ you’re going to be an effective leader.”
Tips for Effective Communication in 2021 and Beyond
Applying the following tips will help you do just that — “see” and “know” whom you’re communicating with so you can become a strong, effective leader:
1. Focus on Non-verbal Cues
Pay attention to what your body language is saying. Maintaining eye contact, limiting hand gestures, and remembering to use good posture will help others feel more engaged with what you’re saying.
2. Be an Active Listener
There’s a time to speak and a time to listen. In order to show a good example of excellent leadership and communication, you need to show that you’re paying attention when others speak. Give affirmative replies and take notes (when appropriate). Ask follow-up questions to make people feel heard and give them a chance to clear up any miscommunications.
There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to collect your thoughts. If you’ve forgotten your point or you’ve been thrown off track for whatever reason, it’s better to simply pause the conversation rather than plow forward and risk miscommunication.
4. Be Culturally Aware
People from different cultures use different kinds of non-verbal communication gestures. While you can’t be expected to be an expert on every culture, if you know you’re having a meeting with people from a different country it’s important to be aware of any cultural bias you may have.
5. Ask for Feedback
… and take it in a positive manner! We can’t learn if we’re not open to growth.
6. Work on Your Public Speaking
Most people dread public speaking, but it’s one of the best ways to improve your communication skills. Public speaking forces you to communicate clearly and succinctly. It also highlights your weaknesses as a communicator and offers you the opportunity to work on them.
7. Manage Your Emotions
It is rarely, if ever, appropriate to have a heated emotional exchange in your professional life. Letting anger or frustration dictate your message will inevitably lead to (further) conflict and misunderstanding. Stay calm, even if the subject matter is heavy.
8. Don’t Interrupt
Sometimes it’s necessary for a leader to redirect a conversation that’s gone astray. However, interrupting for any other reason— such as to disagree with the speaker or to make the conversation about yourself—is a sure-fire way to close communication.
9. Find a Compromise
Your strategy as a leader is usually centered on winning—to get that client to sign, to get a contractor to lower a price, to get the job done. But when it comes to communication, compromise is necessary and conducive to achieving the goals mentioned above. Remember, a win-win situation is still a win for you.
10. Find the Humor
Laughter can relieve the tension during a tough conversation. The person you’re communicating with will certainly appreciate your efforts to lighten the mood. A moment of light-heartedness is also the perfect chance to move the conversation in a positive, productive direction.
Leading Through Effective Communication
Whether you’re leading a crew of 100 or a family of 4, communication is key to success. Your communication strategy as a leader needs to be solid.
Learning good communication skills and leading through effective communication will help you in all types of situations, no matter how tense or complicated they may be.
Practicing these strategies will not only improve your individual skills as a communicator and a leader, but they will also set a (leading and communicating) example for those around you.