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Four communication hurdles to effective leadership

Communication is one of the most important components of any relationship, but it does not always come easy. Depending on the type of communication, the weight of the message, and even the dynamics of those involved, communication takes effort. Effective leadership requires you to be an effective communicator, so you must be willing to put in that extra work. 

Below are four communication hurdles that can hinder effective leadership within an organization.  

1. Believing communication should be initiated and dominated by those in leadership.

Leadership is about having every person you are leading feel valued and appreciated. A good leader needs to acknowledge that leading is not about being the person who is doing all the talking. Communication cannot be one-sided. As a leader, an individual may feel that they need to be the focus of the conversation. However, true leadership is about active listening. Active listening requires you to listen while fully concentrating, understand what the other person is communicating, and then respond after you have truly grasped and given attention to what was communicated.

When you are leading, it is important to be open to feedback. Once you reframe the role you play in communication within the organization, you will find that communication is no longer a chore. Listening to those on your team will be an essential part of future planning as you work toward building a cohesive group of individuals with the same goals. Leaders should be willing to listen to their team members with the acknowledgment that members have value to add to conversations. Open opportunities and avenues for those outside of leadership to reach out when needed are necessary. This will help foster an environment of openness through communication.

2. Practicing only one type of communication.

Effective leadership is about connecting with your team in more than one way. Communication cannot be fully based on one type of correspondence. When an office memo is the only way you send a message, it loses its impact. Employees will become less open to the contents of an email when they are already feeling overwhelmed with the number of work emails received.  Face-to-face conversations, morning meetings, and team check-ins will help keep communication techniques varied and will foster a higher level of engagement.

When trying to relay a certain initiative or goal, remember that graphics and color can also get a message across. Do not limit yourself to short memos or even long emails. Reminders in classrooms and flyers in shared spaces can be encouraging and convenient ways to communicate. Be cognizant of diverse life experiences and backgrounds that have affected the way others receive, process, and respond to information. Verbal, non-verbal, visual, and written communication have different effectiveness and value for each group dynamic.

3. Believing that more is better when it comes to relaying information.

If you want to be an effective leader, you will need to break down your messages so that they are clear and concise. A beautiful worded, lengthy document has no value if no one truly comprehends or feels connected to it.  Focus on relevance and purpose when sending emails, circulating office memos, or introducing a new goal. Having too much information at once can have a negative effect on employee productivity and well-being. Your team will feel overwhelmed and disconnected if you give too much information at once.

One way to avoid this is to check to make sure the content you are sharing is relevant. Be sure that your communication reflects your passion for purpose and positive experience. When you are drafting written communication, know that not every detail and anecdote needs to be shared. When speaking face to face or holding a meeting with your team, these details may come up organically; however, written communication may not capture a person’s attention in the same manner. Again, do not overload employees with the amount of information you are giving. Even if you feel all points are relevant, reflect on whether all information needs to be conveyed at one time. Space out important communication so you give your team time to digest and invest. The last thing you want to do is have your team stressed out or frustrated over a message that was intended to boost morale or help with employee satisfaction.

4. Assuming that all employees are fully invested in their jobs.

Being a good leader requires honesty when communicating. Although you are passionate about the team you are leading and the goals you have set, that may not be the case for everyone in your organization. This may not be a reflection of your capabilities, but instead dependent on the individual’s goals and stage of life. You will need to be understanding of the idea that everyone on your team will have varying degrees of contentment and investment in their employment.

Keep this in mind when communicating with each person. If you refuse to see that one employee is dissatisfied or that another employee is pursuing more opportunities for involvement, there will be a breakdown in communication. Your team will feel unseen and unheard and that is a barrier that must be broken down. Meet people where they are and acknowledge their positioning to ensure authentic communication. Professional development opportunities can help with employee satisfaction and with getting individuals on board with new initiatives. Remember, effective leadership is tied to effective communication, and this means both parties need to be engaged. 

Communication that allows both parties to participate and be engaged will make for stronger and more positive relationships in the workplace.

Leading a team to open and honest communication is a foundational piece of effective leadership. Being diverse in the way you communicate with your team and varied in the way you present information will allow all individuals to clearly receive messages. Practicing communicating in clear and succinct ways as not to overwhelm staff will help with productivity and a positive mindset. Lastly, be honest with where your team is. Authentic conversations about meeting their needs and revisiting goals will allow you to lead your team with a shared vision.

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