One of the critical roles of a leader is to cast a vision for others to follow. So, it should come as no surprise that good communication is one of the cornerstones of good leadership. You may have incredible ideas, but if you are unable to effectively express them to others, it becomes impossible to manifest the success you envision for your team. Whoever your favorite leader of history is, their impact and words have stood the test of time because of their ability to communicate. How can we as leaders brush up this key skill?
Know Your Audience
To communicate effectively as a leader, you must be able to relate to individuals, teams, long-time clients, and broad audiences of potential customers. Leaders who are clear communicators make every individual in their audience, social media feed, organization, or private office feel like he or she is speaking directly to them. To do this, you have to understand what motivates people on an individual level. The key to relating to people with ease is empathy. Before you speak, take time to step inside the shoes of the person or people you are trying to reach out to. Try to determine what they value most, what their wants and needs are, and how you can communicate to them so that you can help them reach their goals. With that essential knowledge, you can adapt your message and delivery to reach anyone.
Make it Personal
Open communication is effective communication. People are good at spotting fakes. You would not try to pass off Monopoly money as the real thing, so don’t recite canned phrases and stay away from business-speak if you can. Be honest and sincere. And if you can, be vulnerable, so people know you’re real and not just putting on a face. For ages, people have been captivated around campfires by stories—and as it happens, a personal antidote is not only great for drawing in an audience and holding their attention, but it can also be a great—and authentic—vehicle for your message.
Don’t Be Afraid to Repeat Yourself
Leaders simply must communicate their visions persistently and across platforms—it is no longer optional. We live in the age of information; everyone is constantly bombarded by media all day, and your message needs to stand out. There is a reason singers repeat song lyrics: It helps their message stick. You might feel like a broken record, but there is research that proves the importance of repeating communication. For example, a study published in Harvard Business Review followed business leaders and concluded that, when they repeated their messages, their teams completed projects more quickly and with fewer mistakes. I have said it before: communication in an organization is the equivalent of a giant rubber bucket with a hole in the bottom. The more communication you put into it, the more the bucket stretches and the bigger the hole gets. You just have to keep pouring in more and more.