Are you a good leader or a great leader? Researchers Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman used 360-degree feedback data to determine the critical skills of the leaders progressing the most in their leadership. And one of the key findings from their research was the effect that communication effectiveness has on your reputation as a leader.
Improving Communication Effectiveness
All effective communication begins with the ability to listen actively. Listening is the number-one way to show others you care about them. When a leader invests their time in actively listening to their people, they demonstrate respect and begin to understand each team member’s perspective. When you learn and appreciate each team member’s perspective, you can add to your thinking and potentially find more effective ways to drive the desired outcomes.
BUT I’M A GREAT LISTENER!
Most people think they are better listeners than they are. What could you do today to become intentional about listening to your team? Most of us could take our listening at work and home to another level if we slowed down and removed distractions. Put your phone away, maintain eye contact, and give others your complete attention.
YOU ARE ALWAYS MAKING PEOPLE FEEL SOMETHING
Another way to improve communication effectiveness and raise your leadership influence is to become intentional about your non-verbals, like body language, facial expression, and tone of voice.
What do your non-verbals communicate? Are you clear, concise, and friendly in your communication? We can often come across as intimidating if we don’t mind our face. Smile more.
Do you have an empathetic communication style? Empathy in your communication means you can relate to the person you are communicating with, and you know what they are going through. When you do this, it becomes easier to connect with others. When you connect, your reputation as a leader increases.
FORGET THE FEEDBACK SANDWICH
Another great way to improve your communication effectiveness is to master the skill of providing regular feedback to those you work with. When you provide constructive feedback, you communicate that you care about that person and want to see them grow and improve. Unfortunately, many leaders shy away from giving constructive feedback, fearing the conflict it might cause. Done correctly, feedback can be your friend and a great way to find the greatness in others.
Many of us were taught the “Feedback Sandwich:” Tell them something good, tell them the constructive part, then tell them something good. This makes giving feedback more about you and how you feel than it does about helping the other person to grow and improve. Instead, use the “Feedback Conversation.”
The Feedback Conversation goes like this: As close to an event you witnessed as possible, share something you thought the person did well, then share something you think they might have done better, and then ask, what did you think? Inviting them to speak into the feedback generates a conversation that leads to personal growth and improvement. Often, it becomes an idea session of various approaches to the topic. I even had it become a role-play to try new ideas.
John Maxwell teaches that the people in your circle of influence are asking three questions about you. They want to know if you are trying to help them. They want to know if you genuinely care about them. And they want to know if they can trust you. Considering these three questions is a great way to frame your communication with others. If the answer to these three questions is yes, then your communication will have a better chance of achieving what you hope it will achieve, and your reputation as a leader will increase.
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