Six communication skills for inspiring leaders

Want to ensure that people always leave your office more inspired than when they came in? Then here are six communication skills that will help you to become a better leader:

Be more focused on others than yourself
You have not communicated well if people have not heard you, understood you and felt motivated to think differently and act differently as a result of your words. People listen from behind their own filters – filters that may be cultural or emotional, or that may be in place because of their unique perceptions or even misunderstandings. You have to talk to people about their concerns, their issues, before you can be understood on your own.

Be bad news junkies and attentive listeners
The simple act of listening can be an act of inspiration in itself. First you have to listen, if you want to be heard. When you listen and then respond with actions, you create enormous goodwill, particularly when you encourage people to open up bring you bad news, express their frustrations and voice their concerns, without fear of repercussions.

Be more compelling about what you stand for
As a leader, you are going to have to stand up and give your point of view, time and time again. You will have to take a position on issues, be courageous and stand up for what you believe to be right. Too few leaders think about developing points of view, yet – when well-articulated – they can help you win friends and influence people, and gain a stronger voice in shaping the future.

Be an accomplished storyteller
To get people to take notice, and then remember what you have said, is a supreme challenge. Great leaders use stories, knowing that we are wired to listen, imaginatively, when we are told stories. Good stories get under our cynical radar and touch our hearts. The best stories tell us about customer experiences, good and bad, or make heroes out of employees delivering the values of the organisation.

Be a conscious signaller
Actions speak louder than words – one of the hardest truths for a leader to grasp. A look of frustration here, a frown of frustration when someone is talking – all of these send powerful signals that staff take away and dissect for meaning. Great leaders communicate positivity and optimism, and they often do it through a smile, or by walking with energy. There is nothing more corrosive than the conflict between saying one thing and doing another: for example, saying that bullying is offensive, but then doing nothing about a high-earning bullying manager.

Be a powerful performer on public platforms
Many leaders have had their reputations shattered because they have not prepared properly for public speaking. Yet, the more senior leaders get, the more likely it is they will have to appear on public platforms. Done well, such appearances can do enormous good and drive up sales or the share price, calm nervous investors or unhappy customers, or persuade talented people to the cause. Proper training or coaching is highly recommended, but is not enough by itself. Practice makes perfect, and rehearsal is the best practice.

With thanks to Kevin Murray’s post for inspiration!