What characteristics do all effective leaders share? Passion certainly makes the list – without a fervent belief in a company or cause, getting people to follow you is impossible. Confidence can’t be counted out. And a willingness to roll up the sleeves and get in the trenches – in other words, just plain old hard work – probably deserves consideration for top honors.
But a shift coordinator, CEO, prime minster, point guard, quarterback, parent or pastor can have all of these attributes and not lead successfully. Without superior communication skills, everything else doesn’t matter. Leaders must be able to communicate with co-workers, teammates, family members and more.
When “Followers” Assume Leadership Roles
Sometimes, the people in charge need a different point of view, a more open mind and maybe a different vantage point for a variety of reasons – to solve problems, deal with crisis and recognize opportunities. In this case, anyone in a non-leadership role can turn the tables – ever so slightly – to prompt change.
From thinking “inside the box” to reiterating the importance of teamwork to embracing failure (not catastrophic failure, but small setbacks used as learning experiences), communicating up the chain of command can be just as powerful and transformative as the typical means of getting a message across.
How Phone Conversations Foster Leadership and Better Communication
Leaders aren’t always up at the podium, with all eyes fixated on them. Communication can veer away from the traditional face-to-face conversation quite often. And that’s why proficient phone conversation skills parallel almost exactly with capable communication. Speaking on the phone and communicating to co-workers, business associates and other both involve:
Prepare. Going in with a plan reduces wasted time and keeps the conversation on-track…and on time!
Speak like you mean it. Half-hearted sentiments inspire nobody. If you’re going to say it, make the other person (or people) have no doubt you believe every word you say.
Start on a high note – and finish on a higher note. Conclude your communication with enough force to leave an impression. The “legacy” of your communication is all about how you finish. Go bold, or go home.
How NOT to Lead
Since we’ve already defined some communication skills necessary for innovative and dynamic leadership, it’s worth mentioning three characteristics and traits that most great leaders DON’T possess:
- Hyper self-analysis. When a leader commits too much time to analyzing their own actions and subsequent results (good or bad), other responsibilities can be ignored. This extreme “self-communication” contrasts the “think, then act” axiom with “think, then act, then think some more.”
- Empathy overload. Can a leader communicate and convey too much kindness? There comes a point when “Mr. Nice Guy” becomes “Mr. Annoying Guy.” Good leadership involves telling people what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear – and also realizing that adults can handle criticism.
- Wasted words. The verbal element of communication has a fine line between “just enough” and “way too much.” If brevity is the soul of wit, as Shakespeare said, it’s also the soul of a leader who knows exactly what to say – preferably in as few words as possible.
Meaningful conversations, embracing an open mind, elevating entrepreneurial skills – communication is intertwined in every aspect of leadership, and finding the right balance of communication competences takes practice – and a few years or real-world experience won’t hurt, either. Even natural-born leaders are always finding ways to improve their interactions. Keep working on your own communication arsenal for greater personal and professional achievement!