LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

How an Established Leader Can Better Communicate

By Leadership Resources 05/26/2021
Leader communicating with his team

The role of “leader” consists of many parts. Not only must leaders excel in their field and manage multiple tasks at once, but they must also unify their teams around a shared vision in order to propel the enterprise forward. This coalescence can only occur with strong communication. That said, leadership communication skills don’t come easily to everyone, and even those who have a knack for it can always seek improvement. Whether you’re struggling to hold your people together or want to level up your emotional intelligence, here’s how an established leader such as yourself can become a better communicator.

How to Best Communicate With Your Team

Make a Routine of Checking in With Employees

For better or worse, humans are creatures of habit. We can use this feature to our advantage by creating positive routines and adjusting them when necessary. When it comes to bolstering your communication skills as a leader, hosting regular check-ins with individuals and teams is a useful habit to establish. These meetings can vary in frequency and length, so long as it becomes an expected event. Not only will these regular check-ups aid in employee management, but they’ll also make your people feel more comfortable opening up to you. The more you listen to your employees’ ideas and concerns, the easier it will be to discuss these matters honestly with each and every one of them.

Cater Your Message Accordingly

Competent leadership communication is flexible, adapting to the audience in question. By getting to know your people better (as mentioned above), you can figure out the right way to reach them. Put simply, you always want to meet your audience where they are. Otherwise, you risk alienating (or even offending) them. Crafting your communication style carefully is an exercise in empathy — plus, it’s much more effective.

Simplify Complex Ideas

Clarity is key in communication. After all, you can’t get a message across to anyone if they can’t make heads or tails of what you’re saying. In many ways, the biggest hurdle of leadership communication is taking complex ideas and reducing them in such a way that everyone can understand and care about them without sacrificing anything vital. As an expert, you might intrinsically know what a certain data set is saying or how a certain process works, but there’s no guarantee that your employees will share your comprehension. To become a more effective leader and communicator, focus on what’s relevant to your people and build from there; getting into the weeds can wait until you’ve gotten your team on the same page.

Mind Your Body Language

Communication is about more than the words coming from your mouth; it’s also about how you’re delivering the message. Humans are designed to read body language. Indeed, your body language can send a stronger message than your words in some cases. Open arms and smiles tend to be infectious and welcoming, while folded arms and frowns can dampen morale. Ultimately, you want your movements to match and/or elevate what you’re trying to convey (this comes naturally to some but not to everyone). If you’re having a hard time getting your physicality to fit your message, partaking in executive communication coaching courses focused on body language can be a major help.

Ask Your Teams for Feedback

No matter how hard you work on improving your communication skills, you won’t know how well you’re doing unless you receive honest feedback from your people. Asking your employees for their thoughts on your performance is a great way to build trust and cultivate a more transparent company culture. Moreover, taking this feedback to heart will help you grow as a leader and communicator, so long as you make adjustments based on responses you receive.

Establishing Stronger Communication

Even the most seasoned leaders have room to grow. Sharpening your communication skills will only improve your culture and allow your company to reach new heights.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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Why Communication Is Important in Leadership

By Leadership Resources 01/05/2021
Business meeting with good communication

Strong leadership and strong communication are inextricably linked — you simply cannot have one without the other. The best leaders maintain a clear line of communication with their peers, partners, employees, and customers. In doing so, these leaders develop a deeper understanding of relevant situations, issues, shortcomings, and opportunities while delivering clear feedback and instruction that steers the ship in a purposeful direction. Let’s dive deeper into why communication is so crucial in leadership.

What Are the Benefits of Good Communication?

Communication Keeps People on the Same Page

Team management is a challenge for businesses of all sizes. Whether a team consists of a few people or dozens of individuals, leaders with strong communication skills are the glue that holds said team together through thick and thin. It’s worth noting that proper communication isn’t a one-way street, either. Leaders must be equally adept at delivering instructions and receiving feedback from team members in order to manage their team optimally. This reciprocity allows leaders to earn the respect and engagement of their employees and make informed decisions that garner maximum buy-in.

Communication Is Key to Understanding Problems

The ability to listen is one of the most important qualities of a good leader, and, as previously mentioned, half of the communication equation. If you fail to hear or comprehend the concerns of those within your organization, the smallest issues can grow into a rot that’s more and more difficult to expel over time. The best leaders actively check in with their people to uncover any nascent problems so they can resolve them as quickly and effectively as possible. New issues are still bound to arise — the key is getting ahead of them with masterful communication rather than ignoring them or missing them entirely.

Communication Drives Positive Change

The whole point of understanding problems in your organization is to discover weak points that you can fix and then make various adjustments that push your company in a better direction. In this way, then, strong leadership communication skills are the driving force behind constructive change. Your organization will struggle to grow or improve if its leaders don’t properly respond to problems and opportunities when they arise.

Communication Helps Retain Top Talent

In recent posts, we’ve discussed the importance of employee retention, especially when it comes to keeping top talent in your organization. While these retention efforts are multi-faceted, leadership communication remains at the heart of them. Those with the most potential in your company may seek other opportunities if they don’t feel like their ideas are being heard and/or if they don’t feel properly compensated for their contributions. In order to keep these valuable people around, leaders must help them grow with the organization — this might mean promoting them into new positions, guiding their own leadership development, giving them appropriate raises, and so on. Whatever the case, these decisions must be based on the mutual needs of these individuals and your company, which can only be uncovered through powerful communication.

Leaders who display strong communication keep their people on the same page, understand and resolve issues before they fester, improve their operations and culture, and retain the very best people to keep this cycle going. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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Having Tough Conversations with Dignity

By Leadership Resources 04/11/2019
Leadership Resources two men having a hard conversation

Your people are your greatest assets, but they’re also human beings with various ambitions, views, and flaws. If you’re in charge of a team, you have to focus much of your energy on communication and performance management. Proper communication with each individual and the team as a whole will help keep everyone on track and mitigate any growing issues or concerns.

This is easier said than done, of course. When something goes wrong, a tough conversation may be in order. And if you’re the team leader, the impetus is on you to conduct these tough conversations with dignity while still addressing the issues at hand. Let’s explore some of the ways you can navigate these interactions while also preventing them from devolving into finger-pointing or talking around the problem.

How to Have Challenging Conversations Well

Keep it Private

When a problem arises in your company, it may affect your whole team. Or, your team might have triggered the problem in the first place. Whatever the case, resist the urge to address your team as a whole right away. It’s often better to speak with individuals one-on-one to better understand the issue before bringing it up at large. If the problem seems to stem from a single person, you’ll want to begin by speaking with that person first, of course.

Private discussions are free from distractions and eliminate the potential to lean on or blame anyone else. This gives you the opportunity to better understand where the other party is coming from. Holding conversations in private can also help the other party feel more comfortable, as they won’t feel singled out in front of the rest of the team.

Be as Clear and Honest as Possible

Good leadership communication is all about clarity. The more transparent you are, the better the conversation will go. What does this transparency look like in action? It means addressing the issue head-on, clearly explaining why it matters, and genuinely expressing your desire to make things better as a team. The more sincerity you show, the more sincerity you’ll receive. A workplace culture built on this trust is bound to be more successful.

Don’t Make it Personal

Just because you’re speaking with a staff member one-on-one doesn’t mean the conversation has to get personal. Instead, the talk should focus on the problem itself. Even if the individual contributed to the problem in question, merely placing blame is not an effective way to course-correct. You should try to uncover the full context of the issue and discuss ways to make future improvements. We all make mistakes, and sometimes underlying circumstances play a part. If you’re not willing to dig deeper into all relevant factors, the same mistakes will rear their heads again.

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Let the Other Party Speak

Tough conversations cannot be one-sided. Yes, you’re the one initiating the discussion, but you must also let the other party speak and ask questions if anything is to get fixed. Be sure to ask them questions as well. If you don’t open a dialogue you won’t know how to manage your team effectively in the future. Of course, the individual might start placing blame on others, avoiding the problem, or responding emotionally. If this occurs, continue listening, but try to bring the conversation back to the issue, not the person.

Forge a Path Forward Together

The goal of any tough conversation is to amend a problem, making things better moving forward. This can only be done through team effort. Make sure that you end every difficult discussion with a purpose. Work with the individual to create strategies and solutions that will benefit them, the team, and the company. Dignity requires autonomy and self-respect, so you should empower your employees to do better in the future, helping them along the way with mindful team management.

Tough conversations are by definition never easy. They can, however, be productive and cathartic, as long as they’re conducted with dignity. With proper leadership communication training, you can get better at having these conversations. The better you get at this, the stronger your team and your business will be. Leadership Resources offers courses and resources for improving your communication and team management skills.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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Criticizing Your Team Without Demeaning Them

By Leadership Resources 04/09/2019
Leadership Resources critical group discussion

Most of us don’t like receiving criticism. But when we look back on our lives, we often find that our most significant moments of growth were driven by feedback and advice from others. We’ve already discussed the problems with being your own coach. Indeed, sometimes we need an external push to point us in the right direction. If you’re in charge of team management, part of your job is to evaluate its performance and dole out criticism that can help get everyone back on track.

Mastering this communication and performance management is easier said than done, however. On one hand, you don’t want to water down your comments or avoid confronting imminent issues. On the other hand, you don’t want to make your team uncomfortable by singling out members or acting rudely. There is an area between these poles that allows you to criticize your team without demeaning them. Let’s explore this area, how to find it, and how to navigate it properly.

How to Properly Criticize Your Employees

Deconstructing Constructive Criticism

Most of us have heard the term “constructive criticism” before. In fact, it’s one of those terms that loses its meaning after a while due to how frequently it’s used. Still, this is a relevant concept that’s worth truly understanding, as it defines the area between weak feedback and bullying mentioned above.

Constructive criticism isn’t necessarily easy to swallow or even “nice.” Rather, it’s honest feedback given in good faith designed to improve the organization. The feedback given must have the ultimate purpose of improving the individual, team, and/or behavior moving forward. Without this aim in mind, criticism lacks initiative, and may even be given in bad faith. This is why leadership communication is so vital when delivering feedback. If you fail to clearly communicate why a problem needs fixing and how it might be fixed, you’re likely to encounter the problem again.

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The Lame Blame Game

Anyone who grew up with siblings has probably partaken in the blame game before, whether that blame was warranted or not. It’s true that we’re responsible for our own actions, and when we make mistakes it’s best to own up to them as soon as possible. However, playing the blame game is not an effective way to manage your team.

When someone makes a mistake, it affects the whole team. Even if a single person made an error, this mistake serves as a learning opportunity for everyone including that individual, of course. The key here is that the problem gets addressed, not that the individual gets singled out. If you do point the finger, plenty of new issues can arise. For one thing, the finger may get pointed back at you or other team members, quickly creating fissures in the company culture. Also, blaming an individual in front of the team can make that person feel ostracized, which may decrease their productivity and willingness to work.

Some mistakes are more serious than others, of course. If a team member does something hurtful, dangerous, disingenuous, or illegal, you will have to address this person directly. However, it’s often best to have a one-on-one conversation with said person rather than single them out in the group.

Reiterate Unity and Vision

Ultimately, the best way to criticize your team without demeaning them is to frequently remind everyone of their shared purpose. You and your team are in this together. There are bound to be mistakes along the way, and they all must be addressed. But it all must come back to the unified vision so every team member can regroup and get back out there better than before. It isn’t personal.

If you’re still new to leading a team, it’s worthwhile to invest in any available communication training for managers. These programs will help you become a better leader, listener, and bearer of constructive criticism. If you want to learn more about how to manage your team effectively, look no further than Leadership Resources.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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