There are a number of people who believe communication is easy for business leaders, but nothing could be further from the truth. I learned this as a result of a graduate certificate course I recently completed on Communication and Leadership.
A leader is not only expected to communicate, but communicate well because their organization and the people within it look to them for vision and direction. Yet communication is a complex, two-way phenomenon that requires skill, practice and even personal courage on the part of the leader, who is ultimately trying to affect action and/or change in others.
Especially impactful leadership concepts that may be used to underpin one’s communication and leadership philosophy are self-awareness and identity, listening, and the roles of emotion and vulnerability. Leaders who understand and master skills in these areas will find their personal leadership and communication competencies improve.
A notable challenge of mastering communication as a leader is to be able to understand how one’s own values and beliefs, along with our experiences and interpretation of those events, influence our communication. Essentially, how we “show up” in the communication process affects how we both deliver and receive messages.
People do not receive information neutrally; they process it through their own lens including their emotions. Effective leaders, therefore, need to understand their own emotions, as well as those of the individuals they are leading.
Dealing with emotion often requires a leader to be vulnerable, a state that is not easy or comfortable to achieve – either professionally or personally. Many would say it is, in fact, risky to show vulnerability. Leaders may think they need to possess all the answers, be strong and confident, and not show weakness. Helping people see us as authentic and vulnerable will help us make meaningful connections and relationships.
Elevating our leadership by practicing skilled personal communication will create better organizations and more employee engagement, a goal that is worthy for any business leader.
– Sue Voyles