Here’s an inspiring truth: We often do our best work and have the most powerful impact when we learn to let our inner leader shine. Like the best leaders, that means learning to communicate in ways that spark and encourage great ideas; drive the business forward; and build caring, compassionate working relationships.
So, what communication skills do great leaders cultivate to create such success? We recently talked with PowerSpeaking, Inc. Master Facilitator, Coach, and author Amy Riley, who shared some insights with us. Amy, who has coached industry leaders for more than 25 years, has a new book coming out in March 2021: Courage of a Leader: How to Inspire, Engage and Get Extraordinary Results, published by RHG Publications.
“The best leaders target their message to their audience. They focus on what’s important to their audience, not solely on what they want to say. They set the context. They speak their listener’s ‘language’ in terms of perspective. They tie their messages to their audience’s goals and initiatives.
They also know to deliver information again and again, and in different ways, especially if their audience is mixed. People take in information differently, so it pays to present it in different ways: different levels of detail, multiple visual formats, etc.
They are empathetic listeners. Inspirational leaders aren’t afraid to really listen to others. They listen to acknowledge, and they listen to understand. Many times I’ve seen novice or insecure leaders be afraid to let people have their say because they fear if they listen, it will be taken as agreement. What the best leaders know is that if you want to influence people, you need to listen deeply so you better understand what’s important to them. Empathetic listening not only builds trust and respect, but also, gives everyone the benefit of a bigger picture.
They use best-practice presentation skills. Honestly, I think the best leaders employ a lot of the basic delivery skills we share in our workshops. Like, let the passion come through in your voice! Inject vocal variety. Speed up. Slow down. Get loud. Get soft. Pause for intentional effect. The result is that the audience is more engaged and open to what’s being presented to them.
They are authentic and aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said. In my new book, I identify four pillars of courageous leadership, and the first one is, ‘The courage to be authentically you.’ The most respected leaders allow themselves to be genuine. They don’t underestimate their audience’s intelligence by skirting around the truth. They understand the value of being transparent about business issues.
It makes me think about how during this pandemic, we’ve all become more authentic with each other—and that’s a good thing. Barriers of formality have been broken down. We’ve literally invited each other into our homes as we work through virtual platforms. We’ve seen our leaders’ living rooms and their dogs running around in the background. And any responsible leader has to get it now, that they need to ask their people how they’re doing, to check in. Because there are all kinds of personal circumstances that could be affecting the work, like caring for elderly parents, kids e-learning at home, and other stressors.
I think it’s been a powerful lesson in being authentic with each other, and in caring, that I hope we all carry forward.”