If there is one thing that leaders have to be good at, it’s communication. The ability to communicate effectively, that is. Leadership communication can make or break a company, from key stakeholders to employees, all the way to its customers.
A core leadership function of business executives is to reach all interested audiences with clarity, emotional intelligence, and openness in order to share information vital to organizational goals.
The importance of leadership communication
The ability to effectively communicate the company culture, mission, core values, strategies, and expectations is important to gain trust and strengthen employee engagement.
This, in turn, enables leaders to successfully navigate business issues both big and small.
Successful leaders know this and have a clear understanding of just how important their communication style is, and they should always be working on becoming great communicators.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the biggest reasons why leadership communication is so important:
Communicates leadership vision
Not many people become leaders by accident; most of them will do so because they have some kind of vision for whichever company they hold a leadership position in.
An effective communicator is able to spell out the vision for the company, in a clear and concise manner, aligning expectations across the entire workforce.
Builds trust in an organization
According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in leadership is declining around the world, from governments to religious leaders to CEOs. The report states that trust in CEOs, in particular, is at all-time lows in several countries, including Japan (18%) and France (22%).
CEOs are struggling to meet the challenge of being trusted and if they want their business to succeed, and gain credibility with their employees, they are going to have to work hard to build trust. This can be done through great communication, because when leaders are honest, open, and transparent, it can inspire action across the entire organization, earning the trust of all other stakeholders.
When leaders respect and treat their employees well, employees tend to return the favor.
Improves employee engagement
By now, most leaders understand the importance of this on an organizational level. And in order to increase that engagement, leaders need to be comfortable communicating their shared vision and strategies, receiving feedback, and having an open dialogue with all workers.
Building trust in this manner increases the investment employees make in the company, which leads to strategic alignment and greater success.
Encourages communications and collaboration across the organization
It’s a fact that a skilled communicator who can break down the traditional walls between leadership and employees creates a more cohesive organization. Leadership skills go far beyond just being able to make a decision; it encompasses so much more – from body language, facial expressions, and eye contact, all the way up to problem-solving and effective communication.
When employees see their leaders communicating openly and honestly, they are more apt to do the same with both their managers and their coworkers.
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14 communication skills great leaders have
No matter what industry a business is in, leaders must be able to successfully convey ideas, strategy, and vision to employees… while also being approachable and open to feedback. It can be a difficult balance for some, especially as an organization grows in size.
This is where having solid leadership communication skills sets good leaders apart from great leaders. And in the spirit of wanting everyone to be a great leader, we have assembled some of the good communication skills that leaders need to have at their disposal for your review.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but be sure to check them out and take notes!
An adaptable communication style
An important aspect of being a leader is the ability to adapt as needed. If leaders are too siloed and strict in their messaging, employees do tend to start to tune them out, leading to declining morale and plummeting productivity.
Effective leadership communication can adapt to any given situation.
Gone are the days when leaders can hide away in the top-floor corner office. Employees expect more out of their supervisors, and if a CEO or any other leader is never seen “doing the work” or interacting with staff, they too will have less interest in the success of the organization.
Listening is a superpower
Everyone likes to be heard, and one big thing that makes for an effective communicator is the ability to listen. By welcoming honest feedback and new ideas, business leaders show they value the options of their workforce, which further cements their reputation as positive leaders.
Authenticity matters. A lot.
Fakeness can be spotted from miles away, and employees see right through it. Authentic leaders should constantly be communicating with their staff and allowing them to express ideas and opinions.
One way to ensure your CEO is approachable is by giving them a way to create and post authentic, unfiltered content, either to targeted staff or the entire company.
Wants others to succeed
The best leaders want everyone around them to succeed. Poor leaders try to keep everyone subservient to their desires. When employees feel they are valued and heard, and that their input really does matter to their leaders, they are much more likely to put in their best efforts each and every day.
Requests and encourages honest feedback
Effective leadership will always want honest feedback…and be willing to act on this feedback. A company’s culture depends on it! If leaders want their employees to be engaged and to care deeply about their work, they need to be open to feedback, whether it’s positive OR negative.
Can explain complex ideas, simply
Not much hurts company morale more than being an employee subjected to business speak with no clear meaning or direction. Clear communication from effective leadership is closely intertwined with business success!
If strategies and goals aren’t explained in easy-to-understand ways, employees will tend to ignore the information as it’s not useful to their day to day.
Is conscious of non-verbal communication
Body language and non-verbal cues from leadership are always being picked up by employees, and one major way to improve communication is to make sure what employees see matches what they are being told.
Treats everyone as an equal
Effective leaders can make any employee, no matter where they are in the org chart, feel like they are an important part of the team. Communication with every staff member can be valuable, and leaders need to be sure that any and all employees are heard and valued. Being an advocate for diversity is vital for any and all leaders!
Curious enough to ask open-ended questions
Effective leadership communication means not being afraid to hear things they may not like or to ask for input on questions they may want answers to. Poor communicators, on the other hand, think they already know everything and no one else can add value to a conversation.
Follows through on statements and promises
An effective leader does their best to follow through on what they say, what they offer, and what they promise. Otherwise, the relationship of trust between employees and leaders will be broken, and a company will not be getting the most out of its workforce.
Asks the right questions
If a leader cannot ask the right questions of their employees, they may not be suited for a leadership role. As the person who oversees all that is going on in a department (or entire company!), a leader knows what is needed to accomplish the goals of an organization.
Good communicators ask questions – and a lot of them.
Can speak to groups as individuals
Having soft skills is an important part of being a leader. Effective communication means the ability to speak to workers on a global scale but make every individual feel valued as an individual. Treating all workers as though they are just cogs in a machine is a surefire recipe for employee disengagement and higher attrition rates.
Ability to unite people around ideas or causes
There’s a reason most of the world votes for – and elects – leaders. We like to be united around a common goal, strategy, or message. The same is true for business leaders!
Usually successful at inspiring action, a good leader can communicate almost everything employees need to move forward as one team, working towards a common goal – whether it’s a singular new project or the overall success of the organization.
Is always practicing communication skills
Good communication skills do not tend to be easy or come naturally to a lot of people. The skills needed to be a good leader are many, but communication skills are at or near the top of that list.
Practice makes perfect, they say, so leaders need to always work to improve their skills – whether through taking classes, hiring a coach, or even just rehearsing at home in front of the dog before a big event.
What does poor leadership communication cost your organization?
According to a recent Holmes report, the cost of poor communication has hit an overwhelming $37 billion, and it is estimated that it costs the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity.
Poor communication from leaders is about more than just words; it can affect a wide range of organizational moving parts. Let’s see a few…
- Higher attrition rates
- Inability to recruit top talent
- Disgruntled and disengaged employees
- Lower morale
- Lack of trust
- Unhealthy work environments
- Slower growth and smaller profits
- Loss of credibility
- Project failure
- Reduced customer satisfaction
The list goes on and on, and this is not the type of list you want your company to land on.
Having a leader who can communicate effectively is a must-have for any organization. Your employees and customers depend on that communication to make informed decisions about their job or their purchases.
Poor communication, on the other hand, can only hurt your business. So if you are a leader looking to up your skill level, there’s no better time than the present.
Take another look through all the reasons why communication is so important, what skills you may already have, and which ones you should practice more often.
The success of your organization is depending on you!
Download the free report for the latest from tech leadership on remote employee engagement. Check out the Leadership communication survey: Keeping remote teams engaged to learn more!