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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Strengthening Your Communication Skills as a Leader

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Most everyone knows that certain skills define those who make strong leaders. Somehow these people manage to bring people in line with their ideals, address differences, and create a productive workforce with minimal effort. Many of us are full of admiration for those who seem to naturally command this respect.

But what exactly is it that defines a great leader?

There are surely a lot of things that go into it. But perhaps one of the most essential aspects of a strong leader is communication skills. These leaders seem to have a natural ability to speak with people and meet them on their level.

As you work to become a strong leader within your company, building and strengthening communication skills is critical. Here are a few ways you can start.

Building Trust

There are few things more valuable to an employee than having a supervisor they trust to look out for their best interests. As a business leader, figuring out how to start building this trust amongst employees can be a real challenge. Once again, communication is a key component of doing this — and it is something you can work on strengthening while you grow as a manager.

One of the best ways to build trust with employees is to strive for transparency in all actions. This means being open with them and sharing the good news as well as the bad news. It also means working to make sure that employees are never caught off-guard by some of the big changes and new directives that may be coming down the pipe. Transparency is a commitment to being honest, even if it might make you feel more vulnerable — most employees recognize and appreciate that.

Employees who trust their managers to be straight with them about company concerns are more likely to find satisfaction in their jobs and feel like valued members of a team. In the long run, this communication strategy could greatly increase workplace happiness and productivity. Trust in a leader with good, transparent communication skills can also help employees and the company get through some of the most difficult times.

Listening Skills Matter

Another aspect of communication that good leaders continually work to strengthen is their listening skills. When most people think about working on communication, they think about the need to be better at talking or writing to people. But really, that’s only half of it — effectively communicating involves both speaking and listening — it's a two-way street.

Sitting back and listening to employee ideas, concerns, and questions can be a powerful means of moving the company forward in a positive direction. Actively listening by asking questions, getting more information, and thinking critically about the problems at hand can bring to light issues that need to be addressed as well as inspire creative new ideas. Try not to judge the situation too early on, listen without prejudice and try to hear the core message that people are trying to communicate.

Communication, and listening especially, can be even more difficult in the modern era with a remote workforce and a growing dependence on technology. But it certainly is possible. Numerous online tools have been developed that work towards breaking down online communication barriers. It can require a different mentality to communicate and listen well online, but leaders who strive to reach out to and hear directly from employees will continue to find success.  

Showing Empathy

It won’t always be easy to reach out and connect with every employee. There are certainly different communication styles that you’ll have to be aware of including socializers, directors, relaters, and thinkers. Taking the time to think about communication and respond to different employees in a way that will resonate with them is an important component of effectively conveying a message. It is also the first step in empathizing with them.

Empathy can be one of the most difficult skills to learn, but it is also one of the most highly sought-after soft skills any employee, manager, or company leader can have. It is essentially the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, think about how they might feel or react to a given situation, and adjust your actions and responses to connect with them on their level.

In the workplace, showing empathy can help you to understand an employee’s situation and recognize the outside factors that may or may not be contributing to their performance. For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees were put in a situation where they suddenly couldn’t take their kids to school or daycare yet they still had to adapt to remote work and meet deadlines while balancing these stresses. Recognizing these unforeseen struggles and responding is empathy at work and employees appreciate it.


Communication skills are always something that can be improved upon, even for some of the best workplace leaders. Different aspects of communication such as increasing transparency, active listening, and developing empathy are all important to being a successful communicator and ultimately a successful company leader. 

About the Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and business topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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