Every single organization will rise and fall on leadership. All companies can measure their success by the leaders they allow to run their business. So what do successful leaders do that unsuccessful leaders don’t do? Well, that is a long list. But at the very top of mine, there is one ability that will separate top leaders from all the others: communication skills.
First, it’s hard to communicate effectively in general. It’s hard at work. It’s hard with your kids. It’s hard with your spouse. In fact, most people only proactively engage in communication if they themselves have something to gain. That’s just human nature. And that’s how most of the world operates by default.
It Requires Empathy
Next, it takes quite a bit of empathy to communicate well. You have to be sensitive to the other person’s needs ahead of your own. This is not natural for most people. However, it is highly rewarding when put into practice. And yes, empathy can be learned. For me, it has been really helpful to surround myself with people who have more of it than I do. Also, treating others how you would want them to treat you is always a great approach.
It Takes a Good Listener
However, the most difficult part of effective communication is that you have to also be a really good listener. Listening to people can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Some people want something from you. While others may need you to do something for them. The goal is to be able to decipher what the other person is really asking for, and even more importantly, what they need (not necessarily what they want). Many times, they do not explicitly state what they need. This forces you to engage in active listening.
The bonus is that everyone is willing to follow a leader who actively listens to their questions or concerns. In fact, the hard part is finding a leader who does that.
It Takes Practice
As with any valuable skill, communication takes practice. You will fail, and then you will fail some more, but eventually you will succeed. Don’t give up. This skill will separate you from your peers. It will inform how you interact with your spouse, and it will teach you patience with your children.
You will also learn that most conflict comes from unmet expectations. When our expectations don’t mirror reality, our brains have a funny way of making up stories (typically inaccurate) to fill in the gaps. So being able to manage expectations also requires effective communication and timely interaction.
How You Say It
Communicating effectively can rebuild marriages. It can close business deals. It can heal wounds of the past and stop destructive acts in the future. So if you are going to get good at something, get good at this. Keep in mind that it’s less about what you say, and more about how you say it. People will usually forget what you said, but will remember how you made them feel. So go out today and make someone feel special.
LIFE AT CREDERA
We’re “open-sourcing” the Credera culture in a series called Life at Credera. We are sharing an authentic perspective on what we are learning and where we are growing. We are talking about friendships and fun, growth, higher purpose, talent and character, leadership, and communication.
We hope this series is a helpful resource on the continuous pursuit of a great culture. And we hope the results are encouraging to our company, employees, clients, and friends.
Looking for more? Check out these great Life at Credera perspectives: