In life there are skills that would be advantageous to have, skills that you should have and skills that you will never achieve greatness without. The ability to communicate effectively isn’t something you can rely on others to do for you in a leadership role. It isn’t a task that you can delegate. In times of war, one of the key targets that the military sets its sights on is the communication tools and methods of the enemy. Communication is the heart of a military operation. It is the command centre where all actions are set into motion. Take out their communication and you have removed the brain, the opponent becomes dazed and paralyzed. Their ability to plan and take effective action is disarmed. An army without communication wanders aimlessly and hopelessly while the enemy surrounds and crushes them.

Often when organizations experience troubling times one of the root causes is poor or non-existent communication. The “so-called” leader at the helm doesn’t set the example for proper dialogue and direction. When people feel they are being left in the dark about important matters it creates uneasiness and dissention. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. At all times, but especially during dark and difficult periods the need for communication is critical. Keeping people “in the loop” even if the news isn’t positive will make them feel less uncertain and more in control to make a difference in turning things around. People will come together and fight as a unit for the cause when communication levels are maintained. They will bail out and the charge will be, “Every man for himself!” when there is a breakdown in communication.

People can’t help you unless you communicate your wants, needs and desires with them. Say something! Get comfortable relaying the thoughts and ideas in your head to those who you count on. In the same regard, get people comfortable speaking with you. You hear parents say all the time that they can’t relate with their kids. Usually they are talking about their teenagers and they act as if the problem began yesterday but the truth is the problem started many years ago. If they had gotten comfortable speaking with their kids when they were very young and maintained the line of communication then both sides would be more comfortable speaking with each other which is essential when the child is faced with troubling choices.

Email and text messages are excellent but they have limitations. Too often today these forms of communication are used to excess. Many inner office problems arise from this form of communication. Always use caution because once you hit send, you can’t take it back. All too often messages in print are misinterpreted and can cause irreparable harm. Face to face communication cannot be replaced.

Encourage communication, breakdown barriers, walls and fences between staff and departments. Employ proper communication and questioning techniques with your staff. Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Know how you plan to say it and express yourself. Articulate your message so that is clear and easily understood. Practice before delivering important or difficult thoughts, ideas or somber news. Paraphrase, confirm, clarify and ask for more information when necessary. Idiot proof your instructions and when in doubt ask people to explain what they’ve understood you to have asked of them. Praise your people in public so that they receive the recognition they deserve amongst their peers. Reprimand behind closed doors in private so that you don’t humiliate and demoralize people for having made mistakes or poor decisions.

The question is, are you the kind of communicator that you need to be in order to lead the way you know that you should? If you really want to know the truth, ask those who you can depend on to provide you with an honest answer. Ask them how they feel about your communication methods, techniques, manners and messages. Give them the liberty to be honest and forthright. Ask them what you could do to improve upon your communication in order to be a better leader, manager or employer.

“Leadership is communicating to people so clearly their worth and potential that they come to see it in themselves.”

Author's Bio: 

Marshall Northcott is President of SMP Strategies, a company that specializes in sales, communication and leadership training for business professionals. March 2007 marks his sixth anniversary in business. He is the founder of Elite Training Systems, an organization committed to delivering high quality, results oriented, training programs through public workshop venues and customized on-site programs to high profile clients. Marshall is a Corporate Trainer, Professional Speaker and Author of multiple books, Sales Insights, Volumes 1, 2 & 3. He is currently working on his first self-help book entitled “Getting Beyond Average” Strategies for Discovery and Development of Your Personal Potential. In addition he has facilitiated corporate events for clients and coached entreprenuers in their businesses.