The most effective way to align a team’s talents is through honest dialogue.
The need for teams to connect through great communication is fundamental. So, what is great communication? What makes great leaders good at communicating with impact?
The first definition of communication from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior”, doesn’t quite give us the full picture. It is the second definition that points to a critical element, “personal rapport”.
Without rapport, only the illusion of communication takes place. Indeed, I encourage you to reflect on the way you are communicating with people right now. Are you connecting, or talking at them and bombarding them with information?
The basis for great communication is to connect, engage, listen and care.
Communicating and connecting well with others is critical for leaders. It is impossible to be a great leader without being a great communicator and the ability to do this well is a real differentiator. It’s not what you say but how you make people feel when you say it that matters.
Our ability to truly connect with others will determine how people perceive us, how they treat us and whether or not they receive our message as it is intended. It leads to improved engagement, better people outcomes and improved business performance.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”
– George B. Shaw
Think before you talk
Thinking about why it is that you are communicating is essential. Going back to clarity and intent, “what” is communicated should be on a par with its purpose for the team. No matter how important, accurate or interesting some piece of information is, if it is not made relevant to the listener, it’ll soon be discarded or forgotten.
Knowing your people, their values, their allegiances, and fears helps tremendously. High performing teams are also aware of each other’s styles, preferences and priorities, how they come across and what they can do to relate more effectively.
Know your people
Great communicators display a level of authenticity and transparency that is not present with those who communicate behind a façade. The ability to be vulnerable, to show empathy and warmth will ultimately go a very long way to building a strong foundation of trust and therefore much better communication.
Great communicators are skilled listeners. Being genuinely curious about others is only valuable if you know how to listen to what they have to say. Great listeners do so with their every sense. They hear you but also feel you and see you. They pick up verbal and non-verbal cues and know how to read the environment and sense the mood to adapt their messaging on the spot.
It is important to remember the fact that the message is not about the messenger, it is about meeting the needs and the expectations of those you’re communicating with.
Being authentic, curious and personally invested in building strong connections will lift the level of your communication and the outcomes you are getting.