Reflect for a moment and think about who is one of your favorite and most inspiring leaders. Who did you select and why do you pick that person? Do you feel a connection or inspiration with this person? And why do you feel inspired and connected? Exceptional leaders don’t just transmit information; we can all do that. It is not only what you say (information), but how you say it. One of my favorite leaders is Winston Churchill. He had an amazing ability to communicate, connecting and inspiring millions through Britain’s darkest hours. His ability to effectively communicate was one of his greatest strengths. For example, in this simple statement of Churchill’s, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts,” he conveys so much.
His statement is not only relevant for its time but continues to be relevant in the business world today: A single success is not enough (don’t rest on your laurels); a failure is not the end (it’s ok to make mistakes); and a great attitude and motivation will prevail and sustain a company. Communication by the CEO and top leadership, and all the way to a first level team leader, is critical for building a great organization and aligning goals, people, values, attitudes, and a company culture.
For this reason, I will emphasize this point: leadership and communication are interconnected, intertwined, interwoven, and your potential as a leader and the success of your organization is dependent upon your ability to effectively communicate with others.
Biggest Mistake Leaders Make
How can you organize, inspire, or guide others if you don’t communicate in a clear, credible, authentic way? You just can’t. Now let’s look at some data that supports this point. When employees were asked “What is the biggest mistake leaders make when working with others?” Here were the results:
Wow! 41% believe their leaders have inappropriate use of not only communication but listening as well? That is overwhelming evidence to make you think twice about what and how you are communicating. Self-reflect for a moment: Do you communicate in a way that is meaningful? Do you assume that your direct reports intuitively understand what you are saying, what you expect from them, and their role in making this happen? How did you rate yourself? In addition, failing to listen to their feedback, ignoring alternative viewpoints, or failing to seek clarity through keen listening can undermine leadership effectiveness and trust.
The Most Critical Skill a Leader Can Possess
On the flip-side, when employees were asked, “What is the most critical skill a leader can have when working with others?” The result was overwhelming.
If you have read this far, no surprise here. Communication is identified as the most critical leadership skill. The ability to listen, be attuned to body language, ask challenging questions, provide meaningful feedback, and generate effective two-way communication is what people value most in their leaders, managers, and co-workers as well.
Let Me Tell You a Secret
Let me tell you a secret: the secret to successful leadership. You hear it all the time that a company’s leadership wants to know the most important key to a business leader’s success. Thinking the answer must be something like technological innovation, savvy marketing, or far-sighted financial planning—all of which are important—their jaws drop when they learn the secret. Could the secret be the ability to have mastered the six basic functions of management: leading, planning, organizing, staffing, controlling, and communicating?
Well, the secret to successful leadership is effective communication. Think about it…how do the best leaders motivate and inspire their people? Through clear communication. How do the best organizations promote discipline, accountability, and strategic alignment? With clear communication. In real estate, the old cliché is “location, location, location.” In business leadership, it is “communication, communication, communication.”
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that clear, honest, humble, and transparent bi-directional communication is the most important key to a business leader’s success and to your company’s success. So, to grow as a leader and manager, you must learn how to be an effective, compelling communicator. And if you want your company to continue to succeed, you and your team must master the art of clear communication together as well.
Want to Learn More?
If you want to learn more about leadership and communication skills, please check out one of my Pluralsight courses: Leadership and Communication Skills by Michael Krasowski. URL: www.pluralsight.com/courses/leadership-communication-software-engineers
Fairway Technologies, Inc.