Communication Skills for Leaders – are you risking your reputation?

Communication Skills for Leaders – are you risking your reputation?

For many of us, we make the assumption that leaders naturally have good communication skills. This is just not the case. The art of good communication does not come naturally to many. For the majority of us, it is a skill we have to learn and constantly develop, when we’re trying to encourage a feel good factor in the work place.  It is essential on so many levels, whether it be internally within your organisation or externally when dealing with clients.

Picture all those times you have been really irritated by something.  It usually comes down to a lack of effective communication.  This is the case in both the small and the large picture.  For example, on a personal level, imagine receiving a larger than expected invoice or an unexpectedly negative performance report.  Your immediate reaction is to ask ‘Why?’  If you’re asking this question, then the other party has failed to communicate with you, failing to manage expectations or failing in their role as an internal coach.  Now, on a larger scale, look at the way the banks have managed their external communication of their pay and bonus structure. The majority of the population are still asking ‘why?’

I am not here to comment on whether their financial actions are / are not correct or effective but to point out that the reasons for their actions have not been communicated effectively. They have managed to provide very little ‘buy in’ to the necessity of their actions and all attempts to place a positive spin on the situation have resulted in more bad feeling. The banks have failed to communicate their actions to the public and reason for them.

During my time as a Royal Marine Officer, I sometimes had to deliver difficult and unpopular news. Through experience I found that if I was able to communicate the reasons behind my decision, even if it still proved unpopular, at least there was an understanding of the purpose and what I hoped to achieve.  Once I had achieved ‘buy in’ my role was immeasurably easier.

The point is that as a leader, it is easy to forget to communicate on a regular basis and easy to overlook the importance it holds for those further down the chain.

So the message is – KEEP COMMUNICATING.