One Person Standing In Front of a Desk With People Listening to Them

Leadership is both an objective and a state of mind. Leaders can come in all shapes, sizes, and skill levels, but the best leaders all share one thing in common – effective communication skills. However, while communication is a core element of leadership, how can you tell if you’re achieving this goal and getting the desired results? Let’s break down 9 sure signs of effective leadership communication. 

1) Your Team Asks Questions

A big part of communication is listening and understanding what the other person is trying to say. So, one of the best signs that you’re communicating effectively is if your team or subordinates are comfortable enough to ask questions. 

Dialog between leaders and staff is crucial because it can clarify any misconceptions and ensure that everyone is on the same page before starting a project. Also, that kind of trust is built over time, so it’s a sign of long-term success. 

What’s also important is that everyone feels comfortable asking questions, even those that may seem redundant or unnecessary. Because communication and clarification are the most important elements, these types of questions aren’t dismissed or ridiculed. Instead, everyone’s input is treated with respect, no matter their position within the team.

Finally, the other side of asking questions is listening to and understanding the response. So, if both parties make sure that the other understands before moving on to the next topic, that shows strong communication and leadership within the organization.

2) Your Team is Open to Critiques

Constructive critleadicism is part of the work process, no matter the situation or the industry. As a leader, you need to be able to critique your staff members and have them internalize the notes to make improvements. Otherwise, employees may take criticism personally, leading to poor morale or infighting. 

Also, remember that criticism can go both ways. While your workers shouldn’t trash their superiors, they should feel comfortable enough to make suggestions and offer pushback on various ideas or procedures. This step is all in service of building better trust and open lines of communication. 

That said, when it comes to constructive criticism, it’s also imperative that these remarks are handled tactfully and discreetly if necessary. For example, criticizing an employee’s work in front of others can seem belittling and disrespectful, especially if you celebrate other employees in the same session. Overall, it’s best to recognize hard work in front of everyone and address critiques in private whenever possible.

3) Your Team is Transparent

In many cases, workers are selective about what they tell their bosses or supervisors because they’re worried about getting micro-managed or criticized for their efforts. But, effective leadership communication is all about transparency from both sides of the equation. 

In short, workers should be open to sharing their processes and schedule, and supervisors should do the same. Not only can this transparency build trust, but it also allows better collaboration and team-building because everyone is privy to the inner workings of the entire team, not just themselves. 

That said, transparency doesn’t have to be binary – it’s not all or nothing. As a leader, you need to choose which details may need to be obscured from workers and which ones can be shared openly and freely. For example, sensitive company information may require discretion, while elements like bonuses and pay scales are transparent to avoid a potential backlash.

This transparency should also work within the confines of the team. Everyone should have access to knowledge that could affect them, even if it doesn’t necessarily fall under their purview. This way, there’s less confusion regarding objectives and goals when it comes to completing a project.

4) Misunderstandings and Conflicts are Rare

Even the best leaders can oversee conflict, particularly when managing a department or large team. However, with effective communication skills, conflicts that arise from misunderstandings will be far less common overall. 

The reason for the rare conflicts is that everyone is open, honest, and clear about their intentions and expectations. So, there are no lingering questions or assumptions that could lead to friction later on. With this approach, the goal isn’t necessarily to prevent conflict entirely, only to mitigate it and address it whenever it occurs. This way, employees feel like they can share their perspectives (either positive or negative) openly without fear of retribution or retaliation. 

5) Individual Meetings and Follow-Ups are Routine

A big part of effective communication is consistency. Workers and leaders should be checking in regularly to ask questions, solicit feedback, or provide progress reports. 

While it can help to schedule these meetings ahead of time, they should occur naturally in an openly communicative environment. Employees are more willing to speak up and ask for feedback, and when leaders ask for updates, they get quick and concise responses. 

6) Your Team is Collaborative

Collaboration cannot happen without effective communication. A collaborative team is a more productive one because everyone feels compelled to share their best ideas and feed off the creative energy of the group as a whole. So, instead of individuals focused on their own tasks without looking at the broader picture, a collaborative team works together and adapts to the needs of each project.

Another benefit of collaboration is that employees and co-workers feel more open to helping each other, especially when there are still outstanding tasks to be done. For example, a non-collaborative team will have workers who only finish their tasks and don’t ask what they can do next. In this case, workers aren’t interested in helping the team move forward and achieve success. Instead, they’ll be focused on their own tasks and not go above and beyond.

7) Your Team Has a Growth Mindset

Having a growth mindset means knowing your limitations and actively seeking to learn the skills necessary to improve. Growth can occur within an individual position, or it can happen as a collective goal for the entire team (or organization). In this case, each worker strives toward being a better asset for the team as well as improving their own skills and knowledge.

While this mindset can be intuitive for some, it’s also nurtured within a communicative environment. Communication breeds new ideas, and it’s virtually impossible to learn anything without talking to someone who knows the topic already. As a leader, when you foster this kind of workplace environment, individuals are motivated to lift everyone else up, as one person’s success leads to success for the entire team.

It’s also up to you to share your experiences and insights with the rest of the team. Since you’re in a leadership position, you have a unique perspective that can benefit those beneath you. By communicating these insights, you can enhance the team’s knowledge and experience as a whole. Basically, let your workers learn from your previous mistakes and successes so that they can grow into better leaders for tomorrow.

Finally, growth is a positive goal for everyone, regardless of their status within a company. So, even though you’re already in a leadership position, you have to acknowledge that you can learn from other people to develop your own skills. For example, maybe you’re adept at back-end work but struggle to connect with customers. If an employee is a natural people-person, you can take pointers and learn how they engage with clients so effortlessly.

8) Feedback is Common at All Levels

One of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the most communication out of your team is to solicit and provide feedback as often as possible. In most cases, this feedback will be as simple as a “good job” or “well, you could have done X better.” However, don’t be afraid to get more detailed, particularly when addressing a body of work done by an individual or a team.

Usually, feedback like this is informal, but you may also use questionnaires and forms to your advantage. For example, you can offer feedback forms between workers and managers as a way of gauging employee morale and productivity. If everyone is giving and getting high marks, that illustrates a strong community environment. If there’s a lot of negative energy and backbiting, that will eventually lead to conflict and disrupt your operational efficiency.

9) Your Team Adapts to Challenges Well

One of the best ways to test whether you have an effective communication network is to throw a metaphorical wrench into the situation. While that doesn’t mean we’re suggesting sabotaging a project, it does mean you should pay attention when the team encounters problems or setbacks.

A communicative and positive team will work together collectively, with everyone filling positions to solve the problem as effectively as possible. In a disorganized or individualistic team, workers will be more focused on everyone getting a “fair share” of the workload so no one has to do more than anyone else. In a worst-case scenario, employees may openly sabotage other people’s efforts to make themselves look better by comparison. As a leader, you need to make sure that the team can work cohesively, especially during stressful situations.

Become a Better Communicator With AllWin

Leadership communication is not just about keeping everyone on the same page – the process can alleviate conflicts before they arise or spiral out of control. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to be an effective communicator, contact us 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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