3 Communication Skills The Best Leaders Need Now
What first-rate communication skills do the best leaders need, right now? Today I’ll share 3 key tactics you – and every leader on your team – can use to get results. Unexpectedly, I learned them straight from the stage and here’s how these lessons can benefit you.
A couple of years ago I decided to go back to class – acting class, that is, at a dynamic regional theatre in my area. I took the plunge, figuring that my expertise, experience and platform skills as a speaker and trainer would speak for themselves. After all, I was used to being up in front of people and had studied theatre in college.
How hard could it be? I was about to find out. I thought I was just taking an acting class- this is what actually happened. These tactics will give you just the spark you need for your next leadership communication.
On the first night, our stellar instructor briefly explained the ground rules: Right away, our assignment was to start working on monologues from master playwrights Shakespeare and Chekov. And, at the end of our semester, there would be a stage performance. In public. If you’ve had the opportunity to read or see these works, you know the language can seem, well…difficult and challenging by modern standards. Daunting? You bet. And in truth, learning to manage it wasn’t so different from…well, my everyday leadership role.
Here’s How to Raise Your Communication Game- TODAY
Be present and listen up: This is hard. Really hard. Often, it’s easier to think of what you’re going to say than it is to actually listen to somebody else. I learned live and onstage that if you aren’t really paying attention to the other person, you’ll mess up your own line, stumble over theirs or make yourself an obstacle that will cause others to stumble too. A colleague put it this way when he said to me: “If all of my sales people could listen and hear at the same time, we’d be golden”. So, listen up.
Cultivate a healthy dose of self-awareness:
In their HBR article “Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can”, authors Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Marissa Afton remind us that without self-awareness, our brains more or less automatically revert to what we’ve heard before.
How does this relate to the way we communicate as leaders? For example, it could mean we’re replaying and rewinding old conversations with a team member or client, rather than listening and responding to a current conversation. It definitely means we may be missing out on new information, because our brain only really listens to our own inner voice. If you don’t want your leadership impact to be only in your own head, self-awareness makes all the difference.
Learn to manage challenging conversations:
What do leaders dislike most about challenging conversations? Almost everything! Social psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini tells us that “There is a natural human tendency to dislike a person who brings us unpleasant information, even when that person did not cause the bad news”.
In fact, my workshop clients relay that the most challenging thing about an already-difficult conversation is how to structure it. If you want better results for your next conversation, it’s critical to start with these 3 key tactics:
DYH: A former boss passed along this wisdom- being prepared and doing your homework in advance counts. Always.
Address the right problem: Before your conversation or communication, understand what the root cause of the issue is so you can address the real problem.
Consider your approach: And finally, think about how you’ll deliver your message and what your purpose and your tone are. Approach makes all the difference.