You won’t be a great leader without becoming a great communicator.

This doesn’t mean be a great ‘talker’ – there’s a big difference!

It’s having a keen external awareness that separates great communicators from those who muddle through exchanges with others.

Think of the best leaders – they’re all excellent communicators. They know if their message doesn’t connect with people then it likely won’t be understood, much less championed. 

These 5 principles will help you communicate better as a leader:

1. Speak not with a forked tongue 

In most cases, people just won’t open up to those they don’t trust.

When people have a sense a leader is worthy of their trust they will invest time and take risks in ways they never would if their leader had a reputation built upon poor character or lack of integrity.

While you can attempt to demand trust, it rarely works. Trust is best created by earning it with right acting, thinking, and decisioning. Keep in mind people will forgive many things where trust exists, but will rarely forgive anything where trust is absent.

2. Get personal 

Stop issuing corporate communications and begin having organisational conversations – think about dialogue not monologue.

Here’s the key thing – the more personal and engaging the conversation is, the more effective it will be. There is great truth in the following maxim: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Classic business theory tells leaders to stay at arm’s length. We say stay at arm’s length if you want to remain in the dark receiving only highly sanitised versions of the truth.

If you don’t develop meaningful relationships with people you’ll never know what’s really on their mind until it’s too late to do anything about it.

3. Get specific 

Being specific is better than being ambiguous 11 times out of 10!

Learn to communicate with clarity. Simple and concise is always better than complicated and confusing.

Time has never been a more precious commodity than it is today. It is critical leaders learn how to cut to the chase and hit the high points – it’s also important to expect the same from others.

Without understanding the value of brevity and clarity it is unlikely you’ll ever be afforded the opportunity to get to the granular level as people will tune you out long before you ever get there. Your goal is to weed out the superfluous and to make your words count.

4. Focus on leave-behinds not take-aways 

The best communicators are not only skilled at learning and gathering information while communicating, they are also adept at transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading their vision.

The key is to approach each interaction with a servant’s heart. When you truly focus on contributing more than receiving you will have accomplished the goal.

Even though this may seem counter-intuitive, by intensely focusing on the other party’s wants, needs and desires, you’ll learn far more than you ever would by focusing on your agenda.

“You’ll get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”  Zig Ziglar

5. Have an open mind

It is often said that the rigidity of a closed mind is the single greatest limiting factor of new opportunities.

A leader raises their game to a whole new level the minute they willingly seek out those who hold dissenting opinions and opposing positions with the goal not of convincing them to change their minds, but with the goal of understanding what’s on their mind.

It is amazing how many people are truly fearful of opposing views, when what they should be is genuinely curious and interested.

Open up a dialogue with those who confront you, challenge you, stretch you, and develop you. Remember that it’s not the opinion that matters, but rather the willingness to discuss it with an open mind and learn.

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