SUCCESSFUL leadership begins with effective communication. The success of your professional life depends on your ability to confidently articulate your ideas, goals, personality and instructions.
While strong leadership is fundamental to business success, an organisation can only succeed when the vision is clearly articulated to employees at every level. This is made possible through developing a clear understanding of the direction of the business and influencing others to do what is required to achieve these goals.
People do not follow others by accident. An irrefutable law of leadership is that people follow individuals whose leadership they respect. When leaders have influence, people begin to follow them. When they gain respect, people will keep following them.
The ability to influence others lies in your ability to communicate. How can your communication exude your ability to lead and inspire?
Here are a few useful pointers:
1. Adopting your audience’s style
What matters in effective communication is not yours, but your audience’s style. The effective communicator does not impose his personality on the audience.
Like in the Japanese martial art aikido, it is important to “blend” with the motion of the attacker, rather than directly oppose the attack. Instead of aggressively coercing someone into agreeing with you, take people from where they are to where you want them to be.
Thus, to be an effective communicator, leverage on the audience’s own momentum by utilising the audience’s personality, but redirect this energy to gain traction for your message.
Most people are motivated by what is good for themselves. Thus, the more accurately you can understand what someone else wants, the more successfully you can influence and motivate them.
Communication is essentially relationship-building. It is recognising others’ needs and providing them the assurance whenever they need it. The art of making those you lead feel good, even when breaking difficult news, is a skill to be perfected. Incorporate your audience’s “WIFM (What’s in it for me)” mentality as you craft your messages.
2. Keeping it simple
Purposeful communication often requires a rigorous thought process and a distillation of information. The ability to explain complex issues in simple ways is a skill for it demands painstaking efforts and strong competency in the field. By communicating in a simple manner, people appreciate your clarity of thought and are better able to work with you to achieve the team’s objectives.
You can hone your communication skills by translating important business objectives into simple terms. Try obtaining feedback from a second reviewer or visualising yourself as the receiver of the message.
Another useful tip is to end speeches with a specific call to action. You immediately convey to the audience the importance of your message and how they can put it into practice in everyday life. Remember your audience has a limited attention span; communicate strategically with a distinct message.
3. Communicating effectively with a strong vocabulary
Research studies have shown that a strong vocabulary is the most noticeable performance characteristic shared by successful professionals. This corroborates the findings of a study by scientist Johnson O’Connor, which showed a correlation between vocabulary and executive level and income.
A poor vocabulary is a barrier to effective communication. If you don’t have the words you need to craft a message, it may be vague or prone to distortion. A robust vocabulary enables you to be precise and to say what you mean.
4. Effective communication opens doors
Dynamic organisations acknowledge the significant value that effective communication can deliver, especially in today’s climate of persistent change. The key to inspirational leadership is the ability to influence and gain respect.
The stronger the relationship and connection between individuals, the more likely the follower will want to help the leader. When a leader is able to communicate with his people on a deeper level, there is a strong sense of loyalty and strong work ethic. The vision of the leader becomes the peoples’ aspirations as well. Such an impact is incredible.
Effective communication delivers tangible results. Some of the areas in which effective communication will impact the bottom line include improvement in customer satisfaction, service delivery and product quality, increased employee satisfaction and retention of key talent.
On the other hand, the high price you pay for ineffective communication is a major obstacle to business productivity. Members of a company’s management must face squarely the challenge of setting an example themselves and formulate strategies to encourage personnel to communicate effectively.
By raising the bar for its internal and external communications, an organisation is smoothing the path for inspirational leadership and success.