6 Essential Communication Skills for Leaders

No way did they want his micro-managing pedant to be their leader any more.

Gavin’s previous manager was brilliant at getting the best out of people, a fact he didn’t appreciate until she left for maternity leave and Tony jumped in.

Names have been changed for this article, by the way.

Gavin was part of a hand-picked team of Engineers labelled for the ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders Course’.

In my view, the name of the course is misleading.  Leadership is what you’re doing now. Regardless of your role, you’re leading.  You start with yourself: deciding what to eat, what to wear, then with others.

There’s a constant need to communication to organise, clarify, motivate on Teams, Whatsapp and in person.

It should be called ‘Today’s Leaders Course’.

This particular cohort were extremely disgruntled.   Statements like these resounded at the beginning of the session:

“I’ve lost my motivation.”

“We daren’t ask him anything.”

“All he does is criticise.”

The last thing this company wants is talented people to leave, but Tony was generating a dissatisfaction that was spreading like a virus.

In a 2021 paper for The Journal of Applied Management Sciences and Engineering, there’s a great deal of stress on the relationship between persuasive, compelling communication and leadership.

Whether it’s an informal chat with someone, a Strategic Meeting or presenting to customers, leadership depends on highly effective Communication Skills.  In fact, leaders spend an average of 70 to 90 per cent of their time on group and individual interaction daily.

Some embrace this.

Others would rather hide behind their screen or dealing with a technical challenge as opposed to a people one.

Tony was a technocrat – an Engineer who wanted to dispense with the interpersonal side, the ‘soft side’ as he puts it.

These ‘soft sides’ of leadership are hardly ‘soft’: they result in higher Safety Standards, greater efficiencies and cost effectiveness.  Nothing ‘soft’ here about developing interpersonal skills.

So what kind of skills need to be developed?

The group put their heads together and this was how they identified the interpersonal skills essential for Leaders: skills to start putting into motion now so they’re seriously for those roles tomorrow plus the communication skills to MANAGE UPWARDS, as well as their own teams.

Communication for Leadership includes:

1. Able to identify and recognise strengths in people:
has those regular conversations, and doesn’t wait for formal appraisals

2.  Self awareness:
abilities and weaknesses, so knows where to delegate, as well as how to say ‘no’.

3.  Inspires others:
knows how to bring out the best in people

4.  Creates an approachable relationship:
strikes the balance between being personable and being directional, if necessary

5.  Open to ideas from their team:
but also knows how to learn from failure, to select ideas and know what to try and when

6.  Treats the team with respect:
‘Respect’ is a subjective word, so creates a mutual agreement as to what that is.  Is also able to hold difficult conversations when they feel boundaries have been breached.

Your Action Step:

Whether you’re leading others or not is immaterial.  You’re leading.

That being the case, pick the most applicable skill from the list above.  Which one could you focus on more?


Looking to develop your Interpersonal Skills? Want to become a Communication Ninja?  Maybe you want your team to be developed in a certain direction?  Check out what I’ve got for you here.
I cover:
  • Self-paced White Label online courses;
  • 1-to-1 coaching and
  • live group training



So that’s the good.

What do YOU regard as the bad?  Join in with the comments  Arrow

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