Whether you are in a management position or play a leadership role in your organization, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and the next decade. Not everyone chooses to lead – but everyone gets to choose who they want to follow. What do you look for in the leaders you follow?
Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good leader is to lead with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of business and that’s people.” – Oprah Winfrey
Daniel Goleman, in his groundbreaking book Working with Emotional Intelligence, might have said it best: “We are being judged by a new yardstick: not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other.” Soft-skills, your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization. You stand little chance of winning the hearts, minds and hands of those you lead without the ability to connect with them.
Worth Remembering … “Communication is the breakfast of Champions.” – Ken Blanchard
All the great leaders: Churchill, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Thatcher, Trudeau and Clinton, they all had one thing in common – they had the ability to communicate. They had the ability to communicate in such a way that you could see a future that you wanted to be part of. The power of the spoken and unspoken word can’t be overlooked. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be a catalyst for action or in-action. You can build people up or tear them down simply by the tone of your voice and the non-verbal message your body language sends. Regardless of your political beliefs, President Barack Obama’s ability to communicate and connect with others inspired a Nation – and changed our World forever. Agreed, leaders also need to be patient, understanding, flexible and great listeners. But, if you can’t communicate in a way that others will want to follow – then you aren’t leading.
I believe you aren’t born a great communicator but, I believe you can learn to become one. Here are a few suggestions on ways to communicate and interact more effectively with others.
- Provide regular opportunities for informal, casual discussions. This is a great exercise for building collaborative teams.
- Check for points of disagreement or misunderstanding by being more intuitive to the non-verbal signals being sent. Ask closed questions for clarity. Ask open-ended questions to promote dialogue.
- Listen more than you talk.
- When giving instructions use direct, to-the-point communication without a lot of social chatter. Too much information muddies the water and tends to confuse rather than inform.
- Use two-way dialogue, responding to a person’s feelings is just as important as what is being said.
Give them a try. After all – the worse thing that could happen is you’ll draw a crowd. And for today’s leaders, that’s not such a bad thing.
Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for speaking engagements and seminars on a variety of topics including: communication, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations and leadership development. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com