How Successful Leaders Communicate With Their Teams
Choosing your medium -- text or in-person? -- and keeping your message decisive and focused are just two of the key strategies.
One of the most critical factors for your success as a leader will be how you communicate with your team. On a primary level, communication is all about exchanging information, whether that means brainstorming as a group, delegating responsibilities, setting expectations or alerting others to a problem.
The completeness, accuracy, timing and form of your messages will directly affect how your plans are carried out.
Beyond that, how you communicate can play a massive role in the morale of your team -- how you treat your employees will have a direct impact in how they respect you, respect one another and ultimately perform on the job.
So, what is it that makes successful leaders so good at communication? What strategies are they using?
Strategies for success
Take a look at some of the most successful communicators around you (and those in a bigger spotlight), and you’ll see the following traits:
Choose your mediums carefully. First, make sure you’re considering your medium(s) carefully. Being able to send out a mass text or voice message to your employees is important. These channels are appropriate for notifying your team of a last-minute meeting change but wouldn’t be for sending out the scope of a new project.
In the same way, email isn’t the best way to start a long back-and-forth conversation -- especially if it concerns a sensitive subject. Learn to read the situation and decide on the appropriate medium; in the right form, your message’s effectiveness will spread.
Consider your tone and direction. This is especially important when speaking to someone face-to-face. When delivering messages, remember what you’re trying to accomplish and how you may come across. For example, if an employee has done subpar work or missed a deadline, you want that person to improve so the problem doesn’t happen again; you don't want this employee to merely feel guilty about the error.
Frame your wording to achieve this goal; instead of scolding or reprimanding, use a friendlier tone with a corrective direction. You’ll accomplish far more, make your intentions clear and preserve morale this way.
Be as concise as possible. Good leaders strive to remain as concise as possible. Speaking and writing concisely is all about conveying as much information as possible in the smallest possible space, which saves time and maximizes the effectiveness of your writing. Grammarly has a fantastic article worth the read if you’re interested in digging into how to become a more concise communicator.
Keep your messaging decisive and focused. When writing or giving a message, you need to be decisive and focused, which means avoiding rambling, or working through a problem out loud. Speak only when you have something meaningful to say, and make sure your point is clear to whomever you’re speaking with. You can use a service like Evernote to better organize your thoughts, tasks and goals, and work on defining your thoughts in firmer frameworks this way.
Be proactive. Telling someone about a new project requirement isn’t effective if that someone is already halfway through the job. Try to be as proactive as possible by telling your employees early on what you expect from them. Set your expectations long before any actions are taken; and when something comes up, let your team know about it as soon as possible.
One easy way to put this into practice is to set more alerts on your phone and make use of calendar apps; this will force you to consider the timing of your messages, especially for things like follow-ups.
Always be available for conversation. This is important for building morale within your team. You can’t possibly be available for conversation 100 percent of the time, but you need to make your team feel comfortable communicating with you. Show patience and appreciation for their thoughts and opinions, and they’ll be more willing to share with you when they have a problem, when they need help or when they see something that can be improved.
Listen actively to every team member. Finally, listen actively to every member of your team. All team members are valuable, and their diverse range of opinions will open you up to new ideas and help you see flaws and inconsistencies you were previously blind to. Do this early and often to build trust within your team.
Executing the model
If these actions look intimidating to you, or you don’t have a track record of successful communication, don’t worry. Nobody is born an effective communicator; just as it takes us time to develop our understanding and use of language, it takes time to refine our skills as efficient communicators.
With practice and dedication to improving your abilities, you can become a communicative and respectable leader in your environment.