Communicating effectively as a leader: are you doing it?

The role of a leader has changed dramatically over the years. It used to be that leaders were in charge and had all the answers, but now we need more than just authoritative and confident people at the helm. Leaders must also be innovative and creative thinkers who can solve problems with new solutions for their organisations. To keep your employees engaged, you need to know how they think so you can better communicate with them.

Leading and managing requires a different set of skills to be effective. It is no longer about you completing your work, it is about achieving results through others. As HR consultants, we have seen that miscommunication within a business can often lead to a myriad of issues that could have been prevented — or managed efficiently— had there been better clarity in its delivery.

Employees need to understand what is expected from them. Their work impacts others including you. This can only be achieved with clear communication. Without well-defined communication, your staff would end up feeling confused about where they stand at any given moment or even led into mistakes due to said confusion. To avoid these situations, we encourage having an open dialogue. Be sure you talk things through so no one gets lost along the way.

While providing updates as they come up is important, your approach will make all the difference. Consider the following:

Preparation is key

The “I will wing it” approach—while in some circumstances may prove successful— is not always appropriate. Your confidence can diminish when you’re suddenly in front of an audience and the flow of words you imagined in your mind stops appearing when the time calls. Expertly handling your nerves and maintaining an air of serenity will set the tone for success.

When delivering a difficult or challenging message, preparation is imperative. Especially when the employer/employee relationship may be strained or there is lack of trust. Lack of planning will be the biggest impediment of a successful outcome. So why risk it?

Take some time to consider the audience and how the message will be perceived. Prepare on the kind of questions you might be asked and how you would respond. Practice aloud in front of the mirror or with someone you trust will give you honest feedback, so that no surprises come up when it’s time for public speaking at work (or anywhere else).

A great way prepare yourself beforehand is by role-playing possible scenarios so you can take note of your tone, pitch, and body language.

Preparation allows for your intended message to be delivered and to avoid aggravating a situation.
It also shows you have put thought and consideration into this conversation. To assist in your preparation, a script or jotting down your points is a good approach. This will ensure you have covered what you wish to communicate, however ensure the language is in spoken form, not written, to ensure natural flow.

Be genuine in your delivery

Authenticity is a trait all good leaders should aim for. Make sure the choice of language reflects who you are. Don’t hide behind overly formal language and isolate the audience. If people need clarification on something go ahead and explain it simply so they understand what is being said without any confusion.

On the day of your speech, you should try to use it as a reference and not read off the script. Eye contact with audience members is important to show you are genuine and care about the delivery of this message.

How to avoid conflict

Conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t need to govern your life. It can come out of people interpreting things differently and then perception becomes reality! Here’s how you might avoid conflict: be specific with language and avoid phrases that are open for misinterpretation. You can test this by asking yourself the following question: “When I use the words “sometimes, always, and rarely” in a given sentence, do I mean it literally or figuratively?

For example, you may say something along the lines of “I rarely go out of town”, “I play tennis sometimes”, or “I always show up on time”. What is the actual percentage of those incidents occurring in real time? The definition of these adjectives may vary from one individual to another. For some, they may go out of town once a year and calls it a rarity. For others, every other month is a rare occurrence.

Remember that communication isn’t just about talking, it can also include writing and nonverbal cues like facial expressions or hand gestures. It may take some time for new habits to become ingrained in your daily routine, but don’t give up! Keep practicing these skills until they feel natural, so everyone knows what’s going on when there are changes coming down the pipeline.

Whether you are a seasoned leader or new to the role, reflecting on your style and how you communicate can benefit all – this information is just a start. If you’re ready to take the next step in your business, we can help. HR can be painful. Our team of HR experts do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on running the show. Get help now. Contact us today!