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A great leader has to wear many hats and perform many tasks to get the job done. One of their most vital tasks is effective leader communication. An effective leader is one who can get their ideas across and, more importantly, get their audience to follow along and be motivated to achieve the same objectives. 

Unfortunately, effective leader communication is a tricky skill to master, and many people in leadership positions aren’t well suited for it. That said, communication is a learned skill, so all it takes is practice. So, let’s break down 9 top tips for more effective leader communication. 

Why Leader Communication is so Valuable

There’s a big difference between a boss and a leader. A boss tells people what to do, while a leader inspires and motivates people to move forward. Effective communication is essential for this role because it makes the difference between the two. Leadership communication is vital because it: 

  • Aligns Everyone With the Same Goals – Although everyone in the company may have different jobs, their ultimate goals are all the same – to help the business thrive. As a leader, it’s your job to ensure that individual tasks and positions are all working toward the same destination, and communication ensures that everyone understands what their role is within that. Otherwise, individuals may start going their own way, leading to disharmony and friction.
  • Inspires Better Productivity – A great leader motivates their employees through positive reinforcement, not fear. As a rule, people gravitate towards the things they enjoy, so by communicating positively, workers are more likely to feel inspired and energized to work harder. Also, communication can help alleviate redundancies or misunderstandings, leading to a more efficient workforce.
  • Helps Achieve Growth – When everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals, growth is an inevitable byproduct. So, if you want your business to expand and thrive in new markets, leadership communication is essential. Think of communication as the foundation upon which your brand succeeds.

9 Tips for More Effective Leader Communication

1) Be Clear With Your Expectations

One of the most common problems with communication, especially in a professional setting, is that people tend to make assumptions about others. Unfortunately, these assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and potential conflict if unaddressed. 

So, as a leader, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page. For example, when setting deadlines, do staff members need to make this project a number one priority or can they put it on the back burner? You may think it’s a priority, but if you don’t communicate that effectively, others may not have the same outlook. 

2) Know Your Audience

Whether you’re a leader of a company, an organization, or even a family, everyone within the group has different thoughts, viewpoints, and expectations. 

For example, in a company setting, you’ll likely have different conversations with supervisors than you would with hourly employees. You’ll also need to address clients and shareholders in a different way than other executives. 

As a leader, you have to understand each audience and speak accordingly. Otherwise, you may come off the wrong way and create disharmony. 

3) Gather Feedback

Another common issue that people have with communication is that they’re more focused on saying their part than listening to what others have to say. This problem is even more prevalent in leadership positions. 

However, effective communication is a two-way street. Gathering feedback is useful because it helps dispel any assumptions, ensures you understand your audience and allows you to find more effective ways to speak to individuals and groups. 

Basically, feedback ensures you can get out of your own head and expand your understanding of those you’re trying to lead. 

4) Analyze and Adapt to Each Situation

Realistically, being in a leadership position means you have valuable experience and insight to share with your audience. However, your expectations may need to be adjusted based on interactions and feedback. 

Adaptability and analysis are necessary because you should always strive to grow and mature as a leader. Even if you have all the answers today, tomorrow they may be different, so you can’t afford to be stuck in the same habits. 

5) Communicate Often

Typically, effective leadership means empowering those within your purview to accomplish tasks and move forward with their next project. However, you also have to be involved in the process and communicate regularly. 

Even if your communication is brief and mostly just to say “good job,” it’s better than nothing. Usually, positive reinforcement breeds future success, and it’s important to recognize both successes and failures early on. 

Overall, the more you communicate, the easier it is to stay on the same page. Regular communication also shows your audience that you’re paying attention. 

6) Maintain Positive Feedback

As we mentioned, people gravitate toward positive emotions, so it’s much better to lead with that kind of energy instead of coercing your employees to work harder for fear of punishment. Even if someone does something wrong, punishment isn’t the best solution. Instead, you need to look at what happened and how it could be improved for next time.

To ensure a continuous positive work environment, it’s critical to shift not only your mindset but those of your employees. There’s a tendency to become negative, especially when confronted with stressful situations. However, by shifting the mentality and focusing on growth and improvement, it’s easy to train your workers to view things the same way.

For example, when trying to correct behavior or critique someone’s efforts, you can spin it in a positive way by discussing their strengths first and then where they need improvement. Effective communication can also help you understand their mindset and what may have led to poor performance. From there, you can work on fixing the root of the problem and building a stronger foundation for success.

7) Connect With Team Members Individually

As a leader, it’s important to keep your employees at arm’s length to avoid any conflict of interest or favoritism. However, just because you don’t want to become friends with subordinates doesn’t mean you can’t get to know them personally. Part of being an effective leader is understanding everyone’s motivations, along with their strengths and weaknesses.

This methodology goes beyond small talk and asking team members about their personal lives. Instead, it’s imperative to ask questions like:

  • What do you like about your position?
  • Where does this position fit on your long-term career path?
  • Are you satisfied with where you are or are you hoping to move on to a different position?
  • What could make this position better?
  • What are your personal goals outside of work? How does this job help you achieve those goals?
  • What do you hope to get from this position?

The answers to these questions will give you valuable insight into the mindset of your employees so you can become a better leader for them. In this case, leadership communication helps you figure out how to leverage different individuals based on their responses. For example, those who want to grow and advance within the company may be most valuable in key positions, while those motivated solely by a paycheck are best for standardized tasks and duties.

8) Be a Teacher, Not a Boss

One of the most valuable lessons that you can learn as a leader is that everyone’s experiences and perspectives shape how they act in a given situation. For example, if someone has encountered a similar situation in the past, they’re more likely to approach it the same way (or a different way if their original approach ended badly).

So, poor performance or mistakes may simply be a lack of understanding, training, or experience. As a leader, it’s your job to identify which component caused the problem and teach the employee how to correct it. Communication allows you to root out the sources of conflict or friction as well as discuss potential solutions.

Being a teacher means knowing that workers are always learning on the job, as are you. No one has all the answers, and it’s also possible for people to forget what they already know. When you approach situations with this mindset, it’s much easier to foster positivity and success.

9) Focus on Growth, Not Obedience

One of the best qualities you can develop as a leader is the ability to get a broader perspective of a situation and how to handle it based on the assets you have on hand. Workers are the most valuable asset you can have, so you need to know how to use everyone effectively. However, if someone (or multiple people) is not where you want them to be, it’s your job to help them grow into that position.

Another side of this growth mindset is recognizing that some people may grow out of their current position and into a new one, potentially with another company. Everyone has their own path, so it’s crucial to realize that those paths may only intersect with your business for a short period. So, regardless of how long someone stays with the company, your job is to help them grow into the asset they need to be.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, effective leader communication requires diligence, insight, and practice. Even if you’re not the best communicator right now, you can always improve tomorrow. If you’re interested in learning more about how to be a better communicator in your professional life, schedule an appointment today!

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About the Author: Jeremy Pollack

Jeremy Pollack, Ph.D. is the founder of Defuse De-Escalation Training, a sister company of Pollack Peacebuilding Systems, the largest workplace conflict resolution training and consulting firm in North America. He actively participates in de-escalation training and consulting initiatives for a variety of industries, from Fortune 500 companies to well-known non-profits. Besides his Ph.D. in Psychology from Grand Canyon University, Jeremy holds a Master’s Degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding (NCRP) from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is also a member of several organizations focused on conflict resolution and peacebuilding, such as the Peaceful Leadership Institute, the Association for Conflict Resolution, and the Division 48 (Division of Peace Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. Jeremy also holds several certifications in the field of training and coaching: he is a Certified Organizational Development Coach (CODC™), a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Individual (CCTS-I™), and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) under the International Coaching Federation.

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