If I asked your employees to assess your skills as a communicator, what would they say?
Leaders spend most of their days communicating with different stakeholders. Yet many employees complain that the directions they get from their bosses are often unclear. Moreover, even if the instructions are clear, sometimes expectations are vague.
If you want to be seen as a leader who is an effective communicator, there are some things you can do.
First of all, you might want to take one of many online communication assessments. The one I like is from “Mindtools.”
Be honest as you answer the questions. You can print out your results without registering or without cost.
In the meantime, here are some things to think about:
– Are you an active listener?
Are you listening to what people are saying to you, or are you thinking about what to say next? Or, are you on your phone instead of paying attention in a meeting. People notice.
– Do you listen more than speak?
Lots of people have good ideas, and you won’t hear them if you don’t give others the chance to take the lead in conversations. Also, remember that if you regularly share your opinions, no one will seek them out. But if you hold back your thoughts, people will pay attention more when you do speak. Plus, as Abraham Lincoln was credited with saying, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
– What does your body language say about you?
Pay attention to your facial expressions, posture, and even your hand gestures. Someone once told me that my “relaxing face” was a frown. I’ve paid particular attention to this, so I don’t convey a message that I am unhappy when I might just be thinking.
– Are you perceived as honest and warm?
Your team has to know that they can trust you and that you don’t play favorites. Harvard professor Amy Cuddy extended that to the connection between warmth and strength, “Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small nonverbal signals—a nod, a smile, an open gesture—can show people that you’re pleased to be in their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritizing warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.”
– Are you respectful?
Just because you may have a fancy title, it doesn’t mean that you can’t show respect to those who haven’t achieved what you have. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from the receptionist or custodian.
– Do you lead by example?
Please reconsider your strategy if you are a memo writer instead of a one on one communicator, or if you suddenly disappear when a crisis happens. Walk the talk. If you require your employees to take a diversity class, you should be the first person to sign up and attend.
Leaders should pay attention to their communication skills the same way they value their technical skills. Your ability to be seen as an effective speaker and communicator will not only help your reputation but help build morale in your organization. It’s worth your time and attention.