Careers Now: Great Leadership Requires Excellent Communication

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By Cindy Stephens

Many managers fail in their leadership abilities because of poor communication skills. It is important to have excellent communication skills to be effective in a career. Great leaders successfully inspire, encourage and motivate their teams with effective communication skills.

Leaders must have excellent verbal communication to be effective. Speak as clear and concise as possible, ensuring your message is understood. It is helpful to prepare your message in advance for important conversations or meetings. Think about possible objections or questions that may arise during the discussion and be prepared to answer effectively. To help improve your verbal communication skills, read often, whether it is a technical journal or your favorite author. Listen to positive speeches and presentations and notice how presenters inspire the audience. You can pick up tips and quickly improve verbal communication skills.

Listening skills have been lost in the era of social media, texting, email and emoticons. Electronic communication is easier, but hinders our ability to really listen during a conversation. You cannot communicate effectively while texting. The message sent can easily be misunderstood and taken negatively. Use effective verbal communication and good listening skills to ensure you understand what is being said. By listening carefully to conversations, you catch details that may be missed in text or email messages. Eye contact, voice inflections and verbal pauses are lost in electronic messages, which could often mislead the reader.

An excellent way to improve listening skills is to hold back your comments and concentrate on the other person in the conversation. It is so important to listen carefully to verbal and nonverbal communications to ensure you understand the other person’s message.

Comprehend what is being communicated and reflect on what is being stated before forming a response. By listening carefully, you will be able to understand the full message and respond appropriately.

Electronic messages also hinder good writing skills. Many people are so used to sending text messages with shorthand, losing all grammatical and spelling skills. It soon carries over to business communication. You must be able to write well on a daily basis, using correct grammar and spelling. You should also be direct and concise in your written communications, getting to the point of the message. No one wants to read a lengthy email that loses the message among the unnecessary words. If you are responding to an email, ensure your message is succinct and that it uses appropriate grammar and spelling. Use proper sentence and paragraph structure. Nothing is worse than attempting to interpret an email with run-on sentences and a message that runs on and on before getting to the point. If you feel you lack good writing skills, spend time to improve. There are many online tools to help you improve your writing skills.

Along with having excellent verbal communication skills, it is important to pay attention to nonverbal communication such as body language. Non-verbal signs make it easier to understand the message. Sometimes a person says one thing, but the body language indicates there is something more to the message. Interpreting body language also gives you the advantage during serious discussions, negotiations or meetings. Additionally, once you understand how to read body language and nonverbal signals, you will soon be able to project effective body language to people around you. Projecting confidence and leadership is just as important as seeing these behaviors in others.

As a leader in today’s highly technical world, there is often a need to utilize video conferencing. It is important to present yourself in a quality manner. Find a quiet place to connect and practice ahead of time to avoid technical glitches.

Effective communication skills also involve timely responses to phone calls and messages. You may not have the ability to answer a call, but it is vital to respond as soon as you can.

Never leave the caller wondering if their call was being ignored or forgotten. Always return calls. Additionally, be sure your voicemail box is cleared out periodically. Nothing is more irritating than hearing that a person’s “mailbox is full” and being unable to leave a message.

Communication is a powerful tool we use every day. It has the ability to motivate and inspire people. Strive to improve your communication skills to improve relationships. Great leadership requires excellent and effective communication skills.

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