What makes a leader? Is it someone who delegates tasks and assigns jobs? A person who encourages their teammates and sets an example for others? Is it someone who makes tough decisions? A leader can be all these things and more.
What Is a Leader?
Yes, leadership is about overseeing the performance and success of your team members, but we believe that leadership goes beyond a job title. It’s about putting your best foot forward and setting the tone in your workplace. It’s about making an impact and cultivating a healthy work environment, one where all parties feel secure, supported, and empowered.
A good leader:
- Fosters morale in the workplace, making it a place where employees can be innovative, self-starting, and independent.
- Has a strong sense of self and conducts themself accordingly while also guiding the conduct and participation of their peers.
- Is confident, and even when they don’t have all the answers, tackles issues as they arise and supports others to do so as well.
But perhaps the most critical characteristic of a good leader is their ability to communicate. This means being both an active and engaged listener, as well as a tactful and conscientious speaker.
The Importance of Communication
Good communication from the top down keeps team members feeling supported and motivated. This includes both interpersonal communication and company-wide communication. On a personal level, communicating with your teammates helps everyone feel heard and understood and eliminates the risk of misunderstanding.
At a macro level, communication from a company’s leadership helps foster a sense of security and trust in the organization. Even if you don’t always have the answers, employees like to know that they are in the loop and that you care about them enough to keep them informed. Poor communication can breed contempt, distrust, and frustration among employees. At a certain point, they may even leave to seek greener pastures, where the organization puts effort into team communication. It really is impossible to overstate the importance of good communication.
But good communication can be challenging to learn, and there’s no single platitude or piece of advice that will automatically turn you into a good communicator. Instead, here are a few tips to help you start your journey to better communication.
Be an Active Listener
Why do we listen? It’s not just to respond: the best listeners listen to understand. This may seem incredibly obvious but consider just how much your preconceptions—both about yourself and others—inform your methods of communication. Learn how to be an active listener, not just with your ears but with your whole body and mind.
Likable vs. Liked
Don’t let the compulsive need to be liked prevent you from communicating effectively. Part of being a good leader is making tough decisions and having difficult conversations because it’s what’s best for everyone. This isn’t a free pass to say whatever mean or unpleasant thing comes to mind; it just means that ‘being nice’ shouldn’t prevent you from saying what needs to be said.
Communication is just one piece of the leadership puzzle, but it plays a surprisingly significant role in all other aspects of leadership. Delegation, mentorship, conflict resolution, team building, even things like employee productivity and innovation are affected by communication. Effective communication is a cornerstone of leadership. When you learn how to harness it, the benefits will be endless.