Being a leader means taking responsibility not only for yourself, but for those who follow you. It means making sure that your employees have the information and resources they need to do their jobs well and give your customers the positive experience they deserve.
All of this requires communication with both your fellow leaders and your employees. Increasingly, companies are making leadership communication skills a priority; in fact, the average percentage of budgets for managerial communication training has doubled over the last four years.
For this reason, effective communication in leadership is perhaps the most important skill you can hone. The more masterfully you can connect with others (and maintain those relationships), the greater the benefits to you and your business.
What is effective communication in the workplace?
Effective business communication occurs when people:
1 Pay attention to your message
2 Receive it the way it was intended
3 Are persuaded by your points
4 Are able to recognize the details that are important to them
5 Walk away with a clear action item or relevant information
Effective communication is clear, concise, professional, credible, and engaging. It gets your message across without overwhelming your audience with unnecessary language.
Why is effective communication so important for leaders?
- Communicating clearly and directly is essential. Don’t send instructions to your team in jargon or flowery language. Distinguish yourself as a true leader by giving them the plain facts—even if they’re unpleasant.
- It saves time. Even if you only have to take a few minutes to elaborate on a point (or, worse, correct one), those minutes add up quickly. By communicating effectively the first time, you’ll have those minutes back to spend on more valuable work.
- Sending the right message can motivate and inspire employees. Just one effective speech has the power to move people, generate positive change, and spark creativity and innovation within your company.
- Leading means ensuring your employees know what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why it matters. This improves your company culture and prevents confusion and costly misunderstandings. Give your teams the information they need to do their jobs well, both individually and collectively.
- Communicating empathetically affects employee engagement. Employees who feel both valued and empowered to do their jobs well strengthens their emotional connection with, and commitment to, your company.
- Demonstrating transparency improves employee trust. Open, honest communication fosters a culture of inclusivity and solidarity. This strengthens your employees’ loyalty to—and willingness to advocate for—your brand.
In short, how effectively you lead is directly tied to how skillfully you communicate with the people you lead.
How can you hone your communication skills as a leader?
Think of your communication skills as muscles. They need to be exercised consistently and strengthening any of them will help you hone the rest. Here are a few to keep in mind.
Practice your listening skills
In many ways, good listening is good leadership. By practicing actively listening to your team members, you’ll gain important information and build your relationship with them. Acknowledge what they’re saying, make sure you understand it, and confirm your understanding. This helps keep your team engaged and motivated.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean listening to them when they approach you; if you can, check in with your employees individually from time to time.
Stay open to feedback and new ideas
Communication, as the saying goes, is a two-way street. Your team’s insight and practical experience can help you make important decisions about policies, procedures, and strategies. To that end, encourage them to speak up when they have a suggestion and take their comments into account when you make decisions.
Imagine one of your direct reports approaches you with an out-of-the-box proposal for a new workflow. You review it and find that, although you can’t implement the entire plan, there are several valuable suggestions. With her help, you implement these changes and improve your team’s efficiency and effectiveness.
Learn your communication channels
Context matters, and communicating through the wrong channel can undermine—or even destroy—your message. If you relay important information through a casual medium like instant messaging, you could be seen as unprofessional or unempathetic. In contrast, if you call meetings for even minor news, you’ll lose people’s attention and even your important announcements might go unheard.
For example, your company is making some major policy changes that will impact several people on your team. This should not be a mass email announcement. You need to schedule meetings with each of those impacted and relay the news in person.
Tailor your message to your audience
Learn to recognize different communication styles and match your own to that of your audience. If you know the marketing team lead is a “bottom line” analytical communicator, being direct and focusing on the numbers will allow you to communicate with this person more effectively than taking a more emotive, personal approach.
Get to the point
Lead with the main point of your message. This makes it clear from the beginning what the purpose of your message is and what your audience can expect from it. Keeping your writing as concise and clear as possible will help you make your point more effectively.
Lead by example
The best way to encourage effective internal communication is to lead the charge with actions as well as words. Lead the way by projecting what you want to see from your employees in terms of confidence, energy, motivation, positivity, openness, and honesty.
Mastering effective communication as a business leader
It takes time, of course, to master a skill—about 10,000 hours, according to a theory popularized by journalist Malcolm Gladwell. This can seem daunting when your schedule is already booked to bursting every day.
Grammarly’s virtual writing assistant makes it easy to start improving your written communication skills quickly. Our tone detector allows you to analyze the tone of any document and adjust it to fit any audience and situation, while you can use our grammar checker to avoid easy-to-miss mistakes and write with greater clarity and directness. And with the style guide feature of Grammarly Business, you can instantly align your writing with customizable internal guidelines.
Effective communication in leadership isn’t something you can master overnight, but with the right mindset (and a good business communication tool or two), you can begin improving as soon as today.
To get Grammarly Business and begin honing your effective communication skills right away, reach out to us anytime. Our team of experts can help you (and your employees) get set up in just a matter of minutes.