How to Improve Leadership Communication


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Great leaders understand the importance of effective communication. By crafting strong working relationships, employees feel more respected and valued as individuals.

Article 4 Minutes
How to Improve Leadership Communication

Read on to find out the most effective habits of good communicators.

Speak less and listen more

Listen to what the employees have to say and avoid interrupting, this will make them feel appreciated and respected. It is not only what is said during conversation that dictates the tenor; body language and gestures also have an impact. “Be aware that effective communication is about 7% the words we say. The rest is about body language, tone and delivery,” says Inc. By making employees feel comfortable, they will feel as though you are trustworthy, making them more likely to impart information, which may be inhibiting work progress. These situations can then be rectified and necessary advice or support can be given.


Be present and don’t switch off; make the employees feel as though you have time for them. According to Forbes, “Your goal is to weed out the superfluous and to make your words count.” It is a chance to really connect with employees, so ensure that what you are saying makes sense to them. Make specificity important whilst avoiding cutting someone short, and ensure that they can take away positives from the conversation.

Ask the right questions

Good leaders ask questions, but make sure that they’re the right ones. Guiding conversation with the right questions can foster productive communication within the team, thus increasing morale and promoting effective teamwork. First assess which type of questions will benefit the conversation; open, closed or personal:

  • Closed questions only require a yes/no answer and are, for example, used to check the status of a report.
  • Open questions elicit more detail, opening up a channel of communication back and forth.
  • Personal questions delve more into an employee’s personal life.

Demonstrating your interest in their lives outside of the working environment helps create a sense of camaraderie within the workforce, and makes the employee feel more like a person than a number.

Be discrete

Leaders should keep certain situations confidential. When an employee seeks private help or advice and imparts sensitive information, effective communication can help rectify the situation. Once the issue has been identified, the manager should address it to help resolve the problem if work related, or offer counsel if it’s more of a personal matter. PDA says that, “A manager who invites a confidential conversation could help the employee discuss the situation openly and develop strategies to handle it well. But a manager whose trustworthiness is questionable will undoubtedly scare away any hope for a candid discussion.”

Using the right tools at the right time

By taking time and perspective, the best methods of communication can be assessed and implemented. For example, watch your tone on email, handle sensitive discussions face to face (unless you need a paper trail), and even consider an app like slack for quick group discussions that aid collaboration, while avoiding calling a disruptive meeting that pulls your team off task.

These tools allow leaders to communicate with their staff individually, in groups or set teams. According to Axero Solutions, these collaborative spaces are “especially important when employees are spread across geographical locations in different time zones. While public spaces like Facebook Groups may work, dedicated intranet chat services ensure everyone is just a tap away.”

Emotional intelligence

Good communicators are open minded and empathetic. By being emotionally intelligent, a situation can be addressed carefully and individuals treated personally. Strong leaders “address both the ‘what’ and ‘how’ aspects of messaging so they don’t fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance,” says Forbes. The personable approach is a vital part of effective communication; people appreciate being listened to as it makes them feel valued as an employee.

There are numerous benefits to communicating effectively. Firstly, it will improve relationships between the workforce and management. Employees feel appreciated and understand that their managers care about their wellbeing. Intelligent communicators will appreciate how conversing with employees will improve working relationships, encouraging effective teamwork and a content workforce. Efficient communication will also help managers collaborate together, and with their workforces, to maximize output quality and quantity. 

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