Every leader has specific traits and characteristics that help build a cohesive set of skills needed to successfully manage a team. And while no two leaders are alike, they do possess similar qualities that, when utilized effectively, help their employees flourish in their roles. From strong communication to empowering others to effective conflict management, each leader’s skillset can make the difference between a high performing, motivated team to a disgruntled, actively disengaged group of employees with one foot out the door. In this monthly series, we will examine 12 specific skills that leaders can embrace to become the best versions of themselves.
Subsets: Clear Direction, Recognition, Delegation, Conflict
Effective communication is one of the most important skills a leader can cultivate. Regardless of whether you are a young manager or a seasoned professional, communicating well can be the difference between a motivated, engaged, and productive team and a confused, disengaged, and unsuccessful office. According to a study, 3 in 4 employees say communication is the most important skill a leader can possess, yet only 1 in 3 feel leadership communicates effectively. And while having an open-door policy may seem like enough to check off the communication box on the leadership checklist, it is only the first step into being a strong communicator.
Not giving your employees clear direction with specific goals and milestones to reach will make success nearly impossible to attain. According to a study by Salesforce, 86% of leadership and employees believe ineffective communication is the root of all workplace failures. And while 91% of employees say “communicating well” is the one critical skill their leaders lack, 57% of employees say their leaders do not give clear directions. Employees not only need to know what they should to do to be successful in their role, but also why their job matters to the overall purpose and mission of the organization. Knowing the why behind the what can inspire employees to take ownership for their part in organizational goals. A recent study also found that clearly communicating overall strategy, purpose, and shared values is critical to an organization’s success, with 64% of respondents saying it was a key priority.
One area of opportunity for leaders to expand their communication skills is being more effective and consistent with communicating recognition to their employees. According to a study, 37% of workers feel that employee recognition is the most important thing to them at the office; whereas nearly half of employees say they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. While receiving gratitude is imperative to the success of a company’s workforce, 65% of employees say they haven’t been recognized for their work in the past year. While giving recognition to employees, be clear with the win/accomplishment, explain how that helped the overall company, and exclaim their success both one-on-one (via a note or in person) and to the team as a whole.
One of the biggest blind spots in leadership communication is ineffective delegation. Some leaders may feel it’s easier to simply do all the tasks themselves rather than try to explain, train, or give up control of a project. The problem with this is while it may seem easier from a communication standpoint, it actually can cause even more communication breakdown and burnout for leaders and disengagement for employees. Proper delegation helps open the lines of communication, build the skillsets of team members, and provide more communication and training practice for leaders.
Whether between customers and staff, co-workers, or leadership and employees, conflict is a necessary evil that occurs in professional settings. It is almost a certainty that conflict will arise; however, how you handle the conflict will show your effectiveness as a communicator. Whether it’s through a disagreement between you and a team member or you are facilitating conflict resolution between two of your employees, communicating effectively during strife may be one of the most important aspects of communication you may ever use. Listen, stay calm, and work through issues in a cohesive and concise manner. Know that everyone involved in the conflict most likely has the same goal and should be focused on the company’s values and mission. This makes conflict communication exponentially easier to handle effectively.
By focusing on these four subsets, you can make the most of your communication by building the needed qualities to help better support your team.
What skills do you think are the most important for leaders? How do you make the most of the skills you possess? Let us know in the comments section below!