“The Future Depends on What You Do Today”

How do I lead myself and others: The art of communication

The art of communication is the language of leadership – James Humes


As promised: over the next few months I will focus on a couple of key aspects pertaining leadership.

Last month we focused on the art of listening and this time round we take it one step further by looking at communication in general. There is a misperception that being technically superior makes you a good leader. The reality is that leadership is all about communication. You can surround your self with expects however, you cannot outsource communication.

Teams want to know why they do the things they do. As a leader your role is to explain the end goal very clearly. Teams can only buy into the end goal if they understand it. As leaders we often assume that our teams know where we are going and why. They cannot read your mind and if you want them to follow your lead, you need to explain where you are going and why.

The “why” is equally important to the “where”. It is not enough to enlighten your team on where you are going, but also the why.

Herewith a couple of key features of outstanding communication:

  1. Be prepared

Over time we become complacent and think we can “wing it” when speaking to our team. As much as you become comfortable with your team, never stop preparing for what you want to say and how you would like to say it. This will take only a few minutes, but will allow you to think through what you want to achieve and pre-empt some of the questions. It is also a great way to assess whether your goals are in fact making sense.

The more significant and important the message, the more time you need to prepare. You only have one opportunity to make an impact that matters.

  1. Consider the method of communication

Giving important messages via email creates the impression that you are hiding away behind your computer. Although we live in times where electronic communication is making our lives so much easier, it can never replace the impact of a face-to-face interaction.

  1. Listening

Listen more than what you speak! Also refer last month’s blog – The art of listening.

  1. Be confident

If you do not believe your message, how can you expect everyone else to believe it?

  1. Non-verbal communication

Body language is an important communication tool. If you don’t look and act like you believe your own message, your team will not buy into your message.

Things like eye contact, a welcoming and encouraging tone of voice and a smile will go a long way convincing people that you truly mean what you say.

  1. Be clear and concise

It is not about you, but about the message. Long-winded messages lose their power and left the team with more questions than answers.

  1. Keep an open mind

You might have made up your mind and know exactly what you want to achieve however, your team has only started their journey and will question whether the end goal makes sense and whether the approach to get there is sound. Keep an open mind. Do not you see these questions as an attack on you, but rather see it as an opportunity to assist your team in getting to the same understanding that you have. Who knows, they might even change your views.

Always remember, you cannot achieve the end goal without your team’s support!

In conclusion: Successful leaders realise that team involvement, effective listening, clear and timely communication are key ingredients to the success of an organisation.

If you just communicate, you might get by. But if you communicate skilfully, you can work miracles.