There is not one specific group of character traits or abilities that makes a leader great. Some are boisterous, others are soft-spoken. One might be humorous, while another is more serious. Consider some of the greats—Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. They were all very different people from diverse backgrounds, yet they were able to inspire others and their messages have stood the test of the time for one reason—their ability to communicate.
You may not be leading a country or have the eyes of the world focused on you, but as a business leader you are being called to inspire your employees, share how your company can help others, and guide the business to success. And that requires an ability to communicate as well. As an article from Forbes points out, “a large number of organizational problems occur as a result of poor communications … that underscores the need for leaders to focus on becoming great communicators.”
Every leader should strive to be a good communicator, and practicing, communicating and learning from your mistakes will help you reach that goal. But, there are three secrets that will help you become a great communicator, which in turn will help you become a great leader.
Secret #1: It’s Not About You
Really, this isn’t just a secret of communicating, but a secret of life in general. However, when you’re communicating, you have to always be conscious of the fact that it’s not about you! It’s about your audience. Do they understand, relate to, connect with or react to what you’re saying? “The message is not about the messenger,” concurs Forbes, “it has nothing to do with the messenger; it is however 100% about meeting the needs and expectations of those you’re communicating with.”
Secret #2: It’s Not About Talking
Being a great communicator isn’t about talented speech writing, amazing articulation or spreading information and ideas. At its core, communication is about listening. Every time you communicate it is in response to something, whether a direct question, a situation or a need. And your response will mean nothing if you haven’t truly listened. As President Woodrow Wilson said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”
Secret #3: It’s Not About The Who, What, When or Where
People, especially employees, want to know more than just the facts of a situation. They desire to understand the why and the how. Why is this happening? How are we going to accomplish this goal? Why did you make that decision? How will this impact me? If you’ve truly listened, you’ll know exactly what questions your audience is asking, and how to answer. This doesn’t mean you should neglect the facts; you just have to make it a priority to leave your audience with the key take-aways they were wanting.
Ultimately, you will not succeed professionally, or personally, if you lack the ability to communicate. As a leader who has been tasked with inspiring your team, assisting your customers and building a successful company, your effectiveness rests on your willingness and commitment to become a great communicator.