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To be an effective leader, it is essential to develop solid communication skills. When a leader is excellent in relaying a message and staying on task, the team will undoubtedly be more successful. Clear, precise communication is necessary to get your goals mission, vision and feedback across to your team. But where do you start? Good communication begins with a plan and continues with useful ways to deliver your message. Here are four simple steps leaders can follow to establish good communication with their teams.
1. Plan your communication.
Leaders aren’t ones for wasting time. To ensure that doesn’t happen with your communication, plan it ahead of time and make sure your message is in line with your company's goals. Identify what your communication intends to do to avoid redundant or useless messages. Prepare your message prior to sending it or delivering it in person. If the communication requires discretion, try to anticipate how the recipient will feel about your message. Even simple actions like texting your team a motivational message should be considered and sent with a purpose.
2. Know how to deliver your message.
Leaders should be transparent, authentic and intentional in their communication. Understand that any message you create needs to be related to your company’s overall goals. Be clear in your message and identify what the next steps should be once it is received by your team. If you want confirmation that a message has been read and understood, ask for feedback. When you receive feedback, you will be able to confirm that your communication was understood. If miscommunication occurs, try to deliver your message differently next time and provide clarity. Ask your team if they have any questions, offer further details upon request and ensure they know what next steps need to be taken.
3. Use two-way communication.
Communication between leaders and their teams is a two-way street. Be mindful when talking to others. Listen to what is being said and ask questions. Seek understanding as you listen, and keep an open mind to differing opinions and new ideas. Ask for clarification whenever necessary. A trick to effective listening is to identify what you believe to be the key points of the message you are receiving. You can repeat back those points to the communicator so they know their message is heard. This is also an opportunity to correct any misunderstanding. If you are receiving feedback, look at it as an opportunity for growth and not as criticism.
4. Determine the effectiveness of your communication.
If a team member doesn't follow through with a request, it’s easy to assume insubordination, but that often may not be the case. Any time you’re in a situation where an employee missed a deadline or didn’t complete a project, consider the message you gave him or her and determine where the employee went wrong and where you went wrong. Consider the instructions and guidance you provided. Were you clear, concise and intentional in how you delivered your message? Ask the employee how things could have gone differently. If it is clear that the problem is due to poor communication, take responsibility for your part and express everything more clearly in the future.
Communication is a skill that leaders must learn over time. Pay attention to the details, ask questions if you have them and model the behavior that you expect from your team.