GCG Leadership Development Team
What exactly is effective communication in terms of leadership?
Effective communication is important for all leaders in every setting. Good leaders know how to convey a clear message. They know how to listen so that an employee will feel heard. They are assertive and considerate in the right measures, and they influence individuals through clarity of vision. But, to be truly great, a leader needs to wield effective communication to engage with their whole team rather than just individual members.
Engagement through effective communication occurs when a leader addresses individuals in such a way that it not only impacts that specific employee, but also ripples out to the entire team. In this way it’s not so much an either/or situation but rather a both/and approach.
Why is engagement through effective communication so important in leadership?
Resilience and compassion, on their own, will never be enough to help a leader empower their team to thrive, not simply survive, during challenging times. True, they’re powerful and inspirational skills, but without engagement through effective communication resilience and compassion are always going to fall short of their full potential. By developing your communication skills, you’re laying the groundwork for everything to fall into place.
This has never been truer, or more necessary, than it has since the arrival of COVID. It’s completely transformed the way industries are doing business. Employees feel more isolated than ever before because if they are meeting in person, they are wearing masks. But even that is a rare occurrence. Digital communication has now taken over as the default setting. With so much of effective communication and understanding relying on tone and non-verbal cues, it’s no wonder that remote working arrangements, and digital discussion spaces, demand a much higher standard of communication excellence from leaders.
Tim Levine, Ph.D., chair, and distinguished professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Communication Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham explains, “There is some interesting and important research on the effects of social isolation on communication. One impact is that, the less contact we have with other people, the more we become suspicious of other people. This can make others more defensive and lead to a vicious spiral where isolation leads to suspicion, which begets defensiveness, which reinforces the suspicion and leads to further isolation as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
As you can see, people are generally at a breaking point at present. The need for leaders to rapidly become more effective and engaging communicators is obvious.
The only question is how can leaders make that happen?
How do we become more effective, engaging communicators?
Especially given current circumstances, so much of effective and engaging communication for leaders is down to a mixture of making sure that their teams are aligned, that they’re leveraging technology to offset the isolation their teams are experiencing, and that communication consists of two-way conversations and open dialogue.
Keeping your team aligned when you’re all in a stressful situation, but different spaces, with different ways of dealing with the added difficulties can be tricky. This is why it’s important to remind your team of galvanizing forces like company culture, shared values, and strategic goals. That way employees are informed, engaged, and feel they can still rely on the foundations of the workplace even though so much of what they’re used to is actively shifting around them.
With team members feeling isolated, it’s important to get creative in how we utilize technology to foster camaraderie and community within our teams. That begins with the boring, but necessary, task of taking steps to ensure internal miscommunications are minimized and quickly addressed, that important information is disseminated to all team members in a timely manner, and that opportunities for collaboration can still take place. More lighthearted uses of technology, like online socials, group activities to let off some steam, and interest-specific digital meet-ups are a great way to maintain team morale.
In all of this it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that team members need to feel listened to rather than just spoken to. To that end, leaders must do everything possible to go the extra mile, to make themselves available to team members for one on one chats, suggestions, concerns, or advice. What’s more, when team members do decide to open up to you, make sure that you’re actively listening and taking care to repeat their concerns back to them before offering insight. Remember that communication is just as much about listening as it is about speaking. By making employees feel a sense of belonging and being heard, leaders ensure they will retain their most valued employees and will uncover useful insights about the inner workings of their teams.
GCG’s 360 Feedforward Coaching process nurtures an open channel of communication, between the leader and their team members, in regards to the leader’s improvement. By relying on their employees to collaboratively help them grow, leaders tangibly demonstrate how much they trust and rely on their team. This allows employees to feel their voices are valued and heard as they play an active role in the leader’s development. Additionally, our innovative technology platform helps model how lateral thinking can be applied to solve practical communication issues that leaders may encounter.
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