Gone are the days when leaders were the only ones who talked in meetings and team-building activities. The number of words you say is no longer the basis to knowing who is worthy to become a manager or a team lead. Sometimes, being outspoken is not even the trait that the top management is looking for.
Nowadays, effective communication skills are the better trait. Having these skills is known to be beneficial not just for the leader him- or herself, but also for the team.
Effective communication can help synergize a team so they can better understand your common goals. It is also important so that everyone understands their role and what needs to be done.
Communication is very important in the workplace and this cannot be stressed enough. If you know that you or your team lacks effective communication skills, then you might want to be the first person who shows them how it is done.
As a guide, here are 5 skills that you should master so you can be a better leader.
1. Learn the art of listening
There will be times when you’ll feel that what your colleague is saying is too simple or something that you already know. There will also be moments when you think the idea is absurd so you either cut them off or dismiss them before they even finish.
To be a better leader, you shouldn’t be doing anything like those. Aside from the fact that it’s disrespectful, it also shows arrogance and inability to hear out your team members.
Great leaders know the art of listening. This means they can keep their mouth shut until the person is done talking, or they can listen to understand the point you are trying to make. Before you speak, you should check whether or not anyone is still talking.
2. Say what you mean
When it’s your time to speak, you should always say what you mean. This is important for two reasons. One, people will not want to listen to you if they know that you are a hypocrite. Two, you don’t want to get caught on something that you did not intend to say. The worst-case scenario is you might even have a case filed against you.
To add to that, saying what you mean implies that you don’t have to mention things that are unnecessary. As a leader and as a team, there is a lot to do and you wouldn’t want them to waste precious office time to listen to extra stories.
3. Be brief and concise
When you have an idea in mind, or when you have an opinion, it’s always important to be brief and concise. Keep things simple because the more words and phrases you say, the more confusion it makes. You will also become more prone to mistakes.
Let’s say, for example, you want to express your opinion about the new strategy of another department. Simply say what you want to say without adding a lot of side comments or beating around the bush.
In this way, your team will not be bored hearing you out and at the same time, they will be able to get the gist of what you are trying to say.
4. Mention the context
As a leader, you will be doing a lot of explaining both to top management and to your team. Since top management will not know exactly what your team is doing, always start with the context. This also applies to when you want your team to work on something.
There is a technique used by good speakers when they are explaining. It’s called “C-A-R” or context-action-result. Putting your goals and plans into context will help your team understand the bigger picture. This will also enable them to think outside the box because they know what the context and the goal is.
5. Back it up with research
Whether you’re a leader or not, it is always a must to back your suggestions with data. In the corporate world, everything that you will recommend and show should be backed up by research and observation, not merely speculation.
It is good to think of ideas and to be in-tune with your feelings, but do not base your actions and plans on feelings. If you are working on brand management, you have to be able to know the market you are moving in, their behaviors, and base all your projects on that information.
While there are great leaders who are known for their eureka moments, these moments don’t come all the time much less come to everyone. It is still better to make an informed recommendation so that other leaders and teams can make informed decisions.
6. Know who you are talking to
In short, you have to know your audience. Saying what you mean and knowing how to communicate your thoughts are only half of how good communication works.
Don’t forget that when you communicate, there are always two parties – the one who talks and the one who listens. In this case, you are the one who talks and your team, constituents, and top management, are your listeners.
When explaining to different groups of people, it would help to know their background and their purpose in the company. For example, you are speaking to your team. When explaining what you want to happen, always use the CAR method.
When you are now called on by top management for a recommendation, you now have to explain it and offer insight on how it will be a good idea to go after your recommendation.
The same thing goes for when you are asked to talk to investors. The way you explain to them the status of the company and its value should always emphasize the value the investors will get from your company.
As a leader, you have to remember that all effective communication skills can be learned. All it takes is practice and awareness of how you speak and who you are talking to.
As you master effective communication, you will see great improvement in the dynamics of your team and how easy it is to get an exchange of ideas.