Oprah Winfrey is a world-renowned communicator and talented conversationalist, but her greatest quality is her ability to listen.
Author Cheryl Strayed once got to experience Oprah’s effective listening skills firsthand. After Oprah picked Strayed’s Wild for the Oprah Book Club, Strayed got to meet her in person and came away impressed with how well Oprah listened. As Strayed tells it, “I was meeting Oprah, and I wanted her to like me. And Oprah was meeting me, and she wanted me to like her. It wasn’t like meeting the queen, even though, for the record, she is a queen, but she didn’t act like one. She was still this incredibly humble human who was really looking to have an authentic interaction with me, and I thought, this is what has driven her success.”
Oprah Winfrey is living proof that communication is about much more than the words you say. Even if you’re the most eloquent speaker, your communication skills could still be lacking. As a leader, there’s much more to learn than just what to say. In many ways, communication is key to growth and development, so knowing the best ways to communicate can help you excel.
In this article, learn why communication is so crucial for a leader, along with the communication strategies you can start using today.
Communication is Key
Leaders have many roles and responsibilities they need to fulfill every day. They might oversee creative projects one moment, resolve a conflict the next, and finish it all up by reviewing the company budget. Though these roles are crucial, nothing is more important to a leader than developing a vision and communicating that to their team.
Communication is the key to seeing success and development in all aspects of your life. In a professional context, leaders known for effective communication can expect to see the following benefits both for themselves and their team members.
- Increased employee engagement
- Greater clarity on purpose and projects
- Fewer instances of work burnout
- Increased levels of trust
- Better understanding of how you reach your goals
- Stronger, more closely connected teams
- Less conflict in the workplace
- Increased innovation
Communication success starts by adopting the following proven communication strategies listed below.
4 Communication Strategies for Leaders
1. Practice Everyday Communication
Effective communication is key to developing empathy for others. Studies have shown that workers crave empathetic leadership, so leaders need to show empathy every day. If team members only hear from you every so often, it becomes that much more difficult to develop a connection.
Take the time to interact with your team members regularly. Practice radical candor during your interactions by giving both praise and criticism. Team members will learn to expect your honest opinion and have the courage to voice their own.
2. Foster Growth Through Communication
Communication success largely depends on helping others see the big picture. Always remind your teammates of who they are and what the vision is.
Work with them to find out their skills and professional goals. Once you know their strengths, give them responsibilities that will drive the most impact in the company. In addition to this, meet with each person regularly to provide feedback. Deliver the feedback with positivity and a firm belief that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.
3. Avoid the Pitfalls of Remote and Virtual Communication
As many people move to remote or virtual work, communication is the key to ensuring everything still gets done. Remote communication can be tricky to navigate, so be careful to avoid some of the common pitfalls people encounter.
For example, when you ask for an impromptu meeting, don’t send a vague message like, “Got a minute to talk?” That type of message can send people, especially subordinates, into a panic, thinking they’ve done something wrong or are about to receive harsh feedback. Instead, briefly tell them the purpose of the meeting. For example, “Do you have five minutes to chat? Just wanted to quickly review the status of our email marketing project.”
Additionally, when you’re on a remote call, practice the same techniques you would if the meeting was in person. Engage in active listening, positive body language, and non-verbal communication cues such as providing eye contact and nodding while they speak. Affirm what you hear with an appropriate question or comment. Good communication like this helps everyone stay engaged and can help others develop personal relationships.
4. Use Formal Reviews to Communicate Values
Formal reviews allow you to speak one-on-one with your team members. This means you can put your communication skills into action. Make sure you use the review to tie back to the company’s values.
In other words, all the praise and feedback you give should closely connect with the core values you have shared with the team. Instead of giving a score or grade, talk about how they measure up to those values.
Like with your other interactions, keep things constructive and offer encouragement for future improvements. Remember, communication is a crucial part of helping people grow into their full potential.
Communication is Key to Being a Great Leader
If effective communication isn’t a priority for you right now, it should be. Poor communication has been the downfall of many businesses and individuals. No other tool out there moves the needle more than great communication.
Even if you feel you have a great skill set in this area, there are always ways to be a more effective communicator, especially when it comes to listening. Early critics of Oprah Winfrey often mentioned how she seemed to make all her interviews about herself. As people now see, she has improved in this area and now focuses on the person sitting across from her. If you’re not listening, you can’t get better. The one thing you can do to be better at communication is learning to listen.
Ready to learn more about communication? Discover more in the following articles.