To accomplish your goals on the job and succeed as a leader, you must have good leadership communication skills. How do leadership communication skills differ from simply having a good vocabulary and the ability to put together a sentence? Leadership communication skills don’t end with the ability to convey a message clearly, that’s where they begin. To have maximum impact as a leader, you must also know when to speak, what to say, how to say it and to whom. In short, when you communicate as a leader, you must take the political dynamics of your organization into account.
What Does Politics Have to Do With It?
Whether or not you relish political gamesmanship, it’s virtually impossible to accomplish your goals without recognizing and navigating skillfully through the political landscape. Oftentimes, we mistake positional power—the visibility and decision-making authority of a particular role–as the ultimate source of political power. While certainly important, winning that coveted officer title doesn’t mean keeping it: if anything, leadership communication skills become even more important when you are seated in the corner office.
Four Tips for Developing Good Leadership Communication Skills
Here are some tips for communicating in a politically savvy way that marks you as someone with good leadership communication skills:
1. Recognize not only the denotation (dictionary meaning) but also the connotation (implied meaning) of what is being said. At first glance, the statement “Her work always met the requirements of the job” sounds like a positive; reading between the lines, the connotation is this person does not go above and beyond minimum requirements.
2. Learn to steer work conversations by being aware that some comments result in the speaker taking control, some in giving away control, while some keep the conversation neutral. Steer away from defensive responses that allow the other person to take control.
3. Grow a thicker skin. People are easily offended and easily offend others, usually unintentionally. Cultivate a good sense of humor and patience that allows you to demonstrate grace under fire.
4. When you are sure you have been the victim of social diminution (shaming, ridiculing, scapegoating, etc.), be clear that the remarks are not appreciated. Develop the art of the well-placed question, such as “How did you draw that conclusion?”, “What options do you recommend?” or “Can you provide more detail to support your statement?”