There are so many technically competent managers and leaders who seem to have so much trouble leading successful teams. One might think that a leader’s superior expertise in an area would be good enough for their followers to support them. But that is not the case. At the heart of a leader’s success in inspiring their team members, is their ability to communicate their dreams and create a path to achieve them. How can a leader do this without the skill set to be an effective communicator?
According to Brian Tracy, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bike. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life”. So if one can learn and enhance their communication skills, what’s preventing this from happening? My experience with my clients is that oftentimes, one is not aware of their ineffective communication. So the first step in becoming a more proficient communicator, is honestly evaluating a current communication pattern. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Are my team members clear in what is our purpose?
- Do I have trouble choosing the best words in what I want to say?
- Are people listening to me or tuning me out?
- Do I take the time to listen to my team without interrupting them or assuming I know what they are going to say?
- Does my body language support what my message is expressing?
When we are busy with our daily job responsibilities we forget that our communication is only effective if we are being heard and followed in an open, direct and clear way. One helpful way to assess your communication is to ask your team members if you are always clear in your directions. If they respond that your words are not always understood, then you might want to write out your message before presenting it. Then look at yourself in a mirror, and make sure your non-verbal cues correspond to your actual words. Check out your facial expressions, your hand gestures and your body movements. Are they consistent or inconsistent with the message you are about to give your team? Appropriate tone, warm, yet firm can also support your directions. And ask: Are there any questions about what is being said? Finally, listen actively for what your team members need to clarify. Don’t assume anything. Taking the time and care to communicate effectively, will help you lead your team with purpose and clarity.