5 Ways to Communicate Like a Leader
By: Danielle Mercier
I was recently in an interview and the question was asked of me, “Danielle, what kind of people bug you?” I immediately, and perhaps too eagerly, knew how to answer. “People who cannot communicate effectively and people whose lack of communication affects my ability to do my job,” I replied. This might sound harsh; but, for me, communication preludes success.
Let’s face it, we’ve all had supervisors, bosses, and managers whose communication could use a little (or a lot) of work. But how is your own communication? Which facets of your communication need work? You might think, “Well, I don’t lead a team so why does it matter?” In reality, we are all leaders in different ways and to different people whether your title states so specifically or not. As a leader, it is vital to communicate, and communicate effectively, at that. You are meant to be a leader no matter your position.
As an educator, I like to make things easy to understand and remember. So, I want to share five specific ways to begin communicating like the leader we all dream of having and being.
- Make listening a priority.
It seems odd to tell you to “listen” when we are talking about communicating. But this is the first step to becoming a better leader who communicates well. If you are not listening those around you, you will not respond appropriately to what your team or that individual needs. The other day I was teaching a reading lesson and my third graders and I were discussing the difference between listening and hearing. Listening means we actually think about what we are hearing rather than hearing the information and moving on to other things. One of my students said, “If you are listening, it means you care.” That is something I think we all feel. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you listen well, you show those around that you care and, ultimately, you become a more effective communicator.
- Respond to people genuinely and with intentionality.
People can tell when you are flippantly responding to their question or concern. This might stem from you, as a leader, not listening to the question in the first place. It is important to recognize the type of response your team or colleagues needs from you. When you sit down to respond to a team member, make sure you have answered any and all questions, you have clarified what concerns the recipient might have, and you have reminded them you are there if they have questions about what you have said.
- Always be ready to say you miscommunicated.
Ever been around a leader who refuses to be wrong? There is nothing more obnoxious. Be ready to tell people if you have miscommunicated. It is hard at first, but it will break down walls between you and your team while creating rapport with them. Here is an example: I teach third grade and I also adjunct for a local university. With my students who are eight years old and thirty-eight alike, I am willing and ready to say I miscommunicated. Why? Because as their leader it is important for them to know mistakes are correctable. When you model this, your team will be more ready and willing to acknowledge their miscommunication. Acknowledging miscommunication will help you become more aware of it so it does not happen a second-time around.
- Do not let your response take days, and days, and days.
I am working on this one myself. Sometimes, it is easy to put people on the backburner because life is busy. You think, “I will get to them.” Instead of thinking that, try asking, “Why aren’t they a priority?” By not responding quickly, your actions are not just implying, but directly expressing this person is not a priority to you. By asking myself this, I find I am more likely to respond sooner and with more intentionality. You can apply this to phone calls, emails, texts, etc.
- Be willing to take the extra step and explain things you have said further.
For me, it is literally my job to explain things in further detail than anyone really ever needs to know. But guess what? I should do it even if my job title is not “teacher” or “professor.” I should be willing to clarify what I am asking of someone without them having to ask. By taking this extra step, you might even save yourself from miscommunicating.
Lastly, as you work on becoming a better communicator, I encourage you to set goals. Start by envisioning the best communicator you have interacted with and aspire to become like them—notice I said, “become like them” not “become them.” You need to keep what is original about you while utilizing the tools that help others communicate effectively. You might want to even ask the person you admire for tips on communicating better. Goal setting is the first step to becoming who you dream of being and unlocking your potential.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”1001″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Danielle Mercier is a recent graduate from Florida State University where she obtained her Master’s in English. She is a part of the Becomingme.TV team. She teaches third grade at a private school in Ocala, Florida and adjuncts for Southeastern University in the evenings. Danielle is passionate about helping others unlock their potential through education.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]