Posted by: Christine Donovan | January 10, 2010

The Number 7 New Year’s Resolution for Leaders

Only three left!  Continuing with the Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Leaders, here is Number 7:

7. Communicate artfully. 

Most leaders know that communications is a primary skill for leadership success.   I’m asked to conduct more communications skills workshops than any other topic, and it’s clear to me that most leaders struggle with this essential skill.

That’s not surprising, it’s a huge and complicated topic and includes countless subsets — negotiating, conflict management, coaching, performance feedback, progressive discipline, presentation skills, facilitation skills, project management, team building, building trust, building loyalty, customer service, and on and on.  

I struggled with many of these myself, still do… but fortunately, experience, study and painful mistakes are great teachers.  

Because this is such a huge topic area, and there are countless books available to address many of the above skills,  I’m just going to share a few thoughts on communications, as it pertains to our Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions.

Here are a few basic guidelines about leadership communications:

  • Learn to balance your interactions; don’t talk too much or too little.  Too much says you prefer lecturing to listening and don’t care about others’ opinions; not enough and you risk having a team that is confused and divided. 
  • Learn about and study body language, written communications, facilitation/presentation skills, negotiating, etc.  Most of us are not born good communicators; we need to learn, study, practice!
  • Listen as much as (more than) you talk. (Remember Resolution #5 – “Turn the spotlight on your team).  Stop lecturing and start listening.
  • Apply Resolution # 4.  Be honest in your communications; be direct, don’t beat around the bush.  But always be respectful and tactful.

For my money, communications is the most important leadership skill you can learn. Great communicators often become leaders; but there has never been a great leader who is a poor communicator. 

So start today!

Tomorrow — New Year’s Resolution No. 8:  Learn that loyalty is a two-way street.

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