Leadership communication is powerful. What a leader says can unite, inspire and clarify. Or, just the opposite – it can divide, anger and confuse. We’ve all seen how a single email or tweet from a leader has an enormous ripple effect. Research also proves that the way corporate leaders communicate can directly impact their company’s bottom line.
Leaders spend up to 80 percent of their workday communicating and effective leadership communication improves employee engagement and boosts sales. When done poorly, however, it can cost billions in the form of employee turnover, litigation costs, lower shareholder returns, and more. In fact, according to the Quantum Leadership Group, poor communication trickles down through organizations and can cost large companies up to a whopping $9.3 billion.
With that kind of impact on the bottom line, skillful leadership communication makes sense (and cents!).
80% of a leaders workday is spent communicating
But the responsibility of good communication should extend to everyone in an organization, not just those at the top. Leadership Expert John C. Maxwell contends:
“Everyone is a leader, because everyone influences someone.”
Here are five tips that anyone, at any level, can bank on for better communications.
5 Leadership Communication Best Practices:
- Choose your words wisely. Words can energize or polarize. Think about what you want your audience to think, feel and do. Audiences are increasingly global. Use words and messages that are universally understood. If you’re communicating in writing, spellcheck. Misspelled words are sloppy and can distract from your message.
- Know your audience. Effective communicators know who they’re speaking to, understand what’s top of mind for them, help connect the dots and frame the discourse accordingly. Analyzing your audience ahead of time, helps you discover how to build common ground and galvanize support. Use storytelling to engage audiences through common experiences.
- Say what you mean. In this era of short attention spans and 140 character communiqués, simplicity is key. Get to the point. Avoid technical jargon and business speak. Be genuine and let the real you shine through. People may not always like what you’re saying – but they’ll know who they’re dealing with and respect you for it.
- Show and tell. Keep in mind the idiom, “Actions speak louder than words.” Your behavior is also a form of communication. When your actions and words line up – you build trust. When they don’t – trust erodes.
- Encourage dialogue. Effective communication is two-way. Solicit feedback whether you’re communicating live or virtually. Ask good questions and listen with your eyes and your ears to get the full message.
For leaders, communication isn’t part of the job—it is the job. Read more on effective leadership communication strategies in Effective Leadership Hinges on Boundary-Spanning Communication.