Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Key Leadership Qualities - Communication

Understand this first: good leaders are good communicators. Poor communication has shipwrecked many a leader and many an organization. Secondly, good communication skills can be learned. For the purposes of this article, we'll be looking at communicating in a personal setting; not public speaking. What are some keys to good communication?

Know your desired outcome:
A leader needs to know with clarity just exactly what it is that he/she is trying to accomplish during communication. Is it relationship building? Is it a meeting to point out changes that need to be made in someone's job performance? If your thinking is fuzzy going into a meeting, your results will likely be equally as unclear.

Seek first to understand, rather than be understood:
This is a key in any relationship, including employee/employer. Since leadership is influence, and people are influenced in different ways, wise leaders make it a priority to understand those they wish to lead. What are the commonalities that can be called upon to further the relationship? What are the unique challenges this person faces? What is their potential? What are their hopes, dreams and priorities? The more you understand, the easier it is to lead.

Consider Perspective:
Everyone has a point of view, and each one is unique. Consider who you are communicating with. What is their background? What is their personality? What is their agenda? Is it different from yours? Since different people respond differently to different approaches, learn to adapt your communication style accordingly.

Ask Good, Open-Ended Questions:
Remember that you're dealing with people, and everyone wants to be valued as a person. Asking open-ended questions builds rapport which builds trust.
It also shows interest. If you honestly find yourself not caring and having difficulty with the relational part of communicating, I suggest you do some homework like reading "Be A People Person" by John Maxwell. Asking open-ended questions also leads to deeper communication because it gets people talking.

The greater your responsibility, the more important communication becomes. In light of that, let's leave the final word to Martin Luther King, Jr., who managed to keep a broad-based, loosely organized group together through some of the most trying circumstances in American history. Here's what he said: "The biggest job in getting any movement off the ground is to keep together the people who form it. This task requires more than a common aim; it demands a philosophy that wins and holds the people's allegiance; and it depends upon open channels of communication between the people and their leaders."

Related Articles:
Key Leadership Qualities - Perspective
Key Leadership Qualities - Discernment
Key Leadership Qualities - Adaptability
25 Questions to Ask in the First Interview
"I Have A Dream"

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