Communication Skills for Leaders

Just how important are communication skills for leaders? If you ask former PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, communication is one of her “5 Cs” in her leadership model along with competency, courage & confidence, consistency, and compass. As Nooyi states, “You cannot over invest in communication skills – written and oral.” Warren Buffet is also a huge believer in developing public speaking skills. He calls it “the one investment that supersedes all the others.”

As we all know, communication is complicated, and effective leaders know it is much more than the mechanics of sending and receiving information. Communication can be written, verbal, non-verbal, body language, and communication through actions and appearance. As a leader, authenticity matters – be honest and sincere. Use your own voice vs. corporate speak. Visibility is a form of communication. Show up in person. Your team and others will notice. They need to see and feel who you are in order to feel connected. Finally, listening is a very powerful skill. Good communicators are good listeners. Listening fosters trust, respect, and openness as you learn to understand their perspective.

Today the world is in a state of unprecedented change. For most people, change is hard. People view change with skepticism and anxiety. The leader of an organization is responsible for painting a picture of how the change will benefit all stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders, partners, and the communities in which we live. According to Gene Klann, with the Center for Creative Leadership, we have three laws of leadership – communication, communication, and communication. Effective communication lets team members know they are valuable, gives them emotional security, and is a significant part of the team bonding process.

As we have discussed, communication is a core leadership function. Leaders need to provide clarity, express ideas, and share information with a multitude of audiences and stakeholders. In addition, leaders need to understand and handle the rapid flow of information not only within their organization, but externally as well. At times we are overwhelmed with communication methods and vehicles. Face-to-face meetings, email, video conference, social media, team messaging applications, and texting can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed.

To be an effective leader and business communicator: 1) Communicate often. 2) Simplify and be direct – say what you mean. 3) Listen and encourage input. Pause and silence allow others to share (this can be uncomfortable initially for leaders). 4) Story telling is a powerful tool. Good stories capture hearts and minds and helps us remember a vision, goal, or objective.

Mark MuellerMark Mueller
Mark is seasoned business executive with more than 25 years of experience. Mark has a strong background in financial and business operations management with a passion for business results, leadership, and achieving goals in a collaborative team environment.  Mark personally leverages his Gallup Strengths: Context, Harmony, Achiever, Responsibility, and Consistency.  Mark is excited to bring you the Aureus Group portfolio of staffing/recruiting programs including project staffing, direct hire, interim executives, and retained search. Mark has a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Business Administration from Loras College in Dubuque, IA.  Mark also earned an MBA from the University of Rochester William E Simon School of Business located in Rochester, NY

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