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Published on December 14, 2020

10 Leadership Communication Skills Every Effective Leader Has

10 Leadership Communication Skills Every Effective Leader Has

If there’s one thing common among all the great leaders throughout history, it’s their skill to interact with others openly and smoothly.

Whether at battlefields of old or today’s boardroom meetings among chief executives, the skill of communication is still a revered one. A leader is someone who is expected to lead the team towards a greater goal. And effective communication skill is the only way to keep the team organized, engaged, and motivated to reach that goal.

So, if you are wondering what kind of leadership communication skills are necessary to become a great leader, then you’re at the right place. Throughout this article, I’ll discuss the essential leadership communication skills and how to master them.

Leadership Communication: What’s So Special?

To completely understand what leadership communication skills entail, we have to first differentiate between normal communication and leadership communication.

Keeping a team together and guiding it towards success is one of the primary challenges you’ll face as a leader. And to accomplish this, you have to be eloquent in expressing the goals to your team members as well as keeping them encouraged and motivated to reach the specific end.

Being a guide, motivator, and leader, all three things together is not possible with just conventional skills. For this, you need to go beyond the ordinary and have to become intuitive and insightful while corresponding to every individual who comes your way.

The following business and professional communication principles and skills for leadership will not only help you to master communication with the others in your life but also improve your chances to succeed as a leader.

10 Communication Skills That Make a Leader

A pioneer must have many talents to direct the people accurately and effectively. And when it comes to communication, here is a list of some know-how you need to master to become a great leader.

1. The Open Door Policy: But Make It More Real

A leader needs to keep the door always open for better and improved communication. The open-door policy is not something that should only apply to the physical office door but rather to the relationship between the leader and the teams as well.

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Whether you are the CEO of a multinational organization or entrepreneur at your own startup, the relationship you have with the staff members determine the quality of your leadership correspondence. So, how to master this effective communication leadership skill?

The best way to create an encouraging environment where every team member feels comfortable enough to express their opinions is to let your attitude reflect it. So many times we have heard “this is a safe place” only to later suffer the consequences of expressing our opinions. So, ensure that the people in your organization understand that your leadership attitude is accepting and that they can freely express their opinions for the betterment of the organization without any negative consequences.

2. What Drives the Man: Understanding Unique Motivational Cues

Everyone has different things that encourage them. As a leader, understanding these different cues and implementing them within your communication style is going to yield a better result than any other.

Each individual is different and one kind of measure is not going to be enough to keep everyone engaged in the project. To keep everyone engaged similarly, you have to ensure that they see some motivational value within the purpose of the project that is unique to their personal journey.

But how are you going to do it?

Well, for starters, you can begin with getting to know the people within your organization and what drives them. In such a scenario, showing empathy and caring for their personal lives can go a long way. For big enterprise leaders who have many team members, getting to know each individual is hard. But giving everyone the chance to grow and improve upon their lifestyle is always a great motivator to start with.

3. Adapting to Styles: Individuals and How They Communicate

As a leader, you have to interact with many different people, each belonging to a different background. And to effectively relate with all of them, you need to adapt to diverse manners of communication.

While some are more open and honest in their correspondence style, some are more reserved. Depending on the unique characteristics, your communication style needs to change. Remember that at the end of the day, your aim is to reach a mutual understanding with the person you are interacting with.

Adapting to different communication styles seems daunting at first, but it is easy. Simply beginning with a basic knowledge of your team members will be enough. Knowing what motivates and drives them in their life and career will be one of the best ways of tailoring your correspondence style to every individual.

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But why master this effective leadership communication skill? Well, mainly because it has myriads of positive impact on the leadership style. Whether it is the vital listening prowess you are trying to master or making the things you say more impactful, tailoring your communication style to the individuals will help you to become the ultimate pioneer in your field.

4. The Secret Benefits of Asking Open Questions

The right questions and their answers can often lead you to an unexpected but very helpful conclusion that will boost the efforts of the team. And to take advantage of this, you must know how to ask open-ended questions.

An essential part of the communication process for someone in a leadership position, the open questions are generally directed at your team members. These questions require the answerer to put some thought and insight behind their answers and provide a unique perspective about the situation they are dealing with.

With the right kind of open questions, you would be able to judge the team member’s involvement with the project as well as how much insight they have about it. So, start asking such open questions today, and if possible, incorporate them within a corporate training system and deploy it to gather the information necessary. Having these questions as training modules can really help to foster a better work environment in your organization.[1]

5. Understanding the Abstract Messages

Besides understanding the individual style of correspondence and their diverse motivational cues, an impactful leader must understand the hidden non-verbal cues that make up a big portion of modern-day communication.

Leadership communication is an art that is not always concrete. As a leader, you’ll encounter many moments when you’ll have to decipher the true meaning of something that was just said or find the perfect way to approach someone based on their demeanor. Comprehending the non-verbal cues will enable you to become an improved and insightful leader and help you expand your network of friends and allies in your industry.

6. Great Leaders Always Need Feedback

A big part of leadership and communication is listening to the opinions and feedback from people around you and implementing the more valuable feedback within your actions.

The listening part requires a stout attitude because more often than not, criticism is not kind. However, being able to understand and strain out the valuable insight and let the other useless noise wash away is crucial to improve not just your actions as a leader but also the chances of the overall team succeeding in their task.[2]

To get valuable feedback from your team members, establish an open and accepting environment for expressing opinions. This way, the team members can express their real thoughts and opinions and help you to become an effective and all-around leader.

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7. Make the Most of Meetings

Meetings are one of the most valuable assets for a larger team to work together. The act of gathering around and working together helps the leaders and teams to come to a mutual understanding of matters and resolve conflicts effectively.

However, the practice of corporate meetings can only become more effective if you know how to make the most of the meeting management and communication process in leadership. Rather than letting the meeting time waste away behind pointless debates and trivial issues, you need to steer the meeting in the right direction.

But how to do that?

Well, to ensure that your meeting efforts go well, you need to begin with a strictly planned agenda and schedule a time for each topic to be discussed. Meeting communication is all about being succinct and to the point. So, use this opportunity to nail down details and ask closed questions that have brief answers. Remember that efficient and clear conversation during meetings can help to clear workplace conflicts and boost your chances of success.

8. Understanding the Importance of Delegation

The number of responsibilities a leader has is innumerable. You’ll face multiple challenges and tasks. And to ensure they are all completed perfectly, you have to delegate the right tasks to the right people.

A survey by Strategic Thinking reveals that almost 96% of individuals in leadership positions lack the time for proper strategic planning because other tasks take up their time.[3] And that is why task delegation makes up a big part of leadership communication because you not only have to sort the tasks out to others but also explain clearly what needs to be done.

Being vague in your description will only confuse the team members. This is why once you have decided on a certain team member for a certain task based on your knowledge of the team, ensure that you’ve spelled out what the task requires. Explaining the process and expected end goal of the specific task clearly will help the employee to finish the task better.

9. The Secret to Effective Communication: Transparency & Continuity

Transparency and honesty in communication are essential, and as a leader, you need to imbibe both of these skills within your leadership communication style.

Whether your team is going through a rough patch or performing well, through a transparent and continuous communication channel you can let them know about their performance and help them to optimize their performance even better. This kind of frank environment will make problem-solving easier, streamline the work process, and ultimately boost the performance of the team.

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To keep up a continuous and honest correspondence with the teams, you can proceed with monthly assemblies or team meetings where important points of information are discussed and the teams are briefed on their performance. Additionally, you can also send survey forms to team members with open-ended questions where they can express their answers clearly and thoughtfully.

10. Acknowledgments for a Job Well Done

If feedback is important for you to lead well, acknowledgment is important for your teams to perform well.

A lack of acknowledgment from the leader is something that makes the team members feel demotivated and confused whether their tasks are being done properly or not. Studies show that acknowledging the team members and commending them on something they did right motivates them and improves their speed and agility in performing tasks.[4]

So, be open and acknowledge the tasks that are done well by the team members. A small act of recognition from you as a leader will go a long way to keep the team members motivated to do even better.

Leadership Communication: The Ultimate Path to Leadership Success

And there you have it, the ten essential leadership communication skills a leader should have. Being a leader is a daunting task. But with honest and open communication, you can foster a work culture that will help you achieve your goals and assist you and your team to reach the peak of your career!

However, creating an open communication environment is not a speedy process. But if you invest enough time and energy into it, you’ll be able to reap the best possible rewards from such an honest communicative approach.

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Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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Pratip Biswas

Pratip is an entrepreneur who loves to share his experience in being productive and power creativity in work and life.

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14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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