In the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing leadership traits that are a must-have for women in leadership or any woman who aspires to be. This week we’ve got a critical tool that is being widely overlooked – COMMUNICATION. Named as a top leadership trait by the Women’s Business Collaborative, it’s a skill you can’t ignore. 

Communication isn’t just the words that you say. It’s how you say it too.

Whether you are already a woman in leadership or aspire to be one, this is a skill that you want to lean into and invest time and effort to become more effective.

It’s how you connect with the people you work with, as they prefer to be connected with. It’s how you create loyalty so that you aren’t constantly pushing that boulder uphill trying to get buy-in. It’s how you articulate the vision of what you are leading your colleagues toward and how you show your support. 

Long story short, it’s how you keep things from getting terribly messy!

For something that is so simply defined, the imparting or exchanging of information or news, communication, or the lack thereof can create a rats nest of problems when not done correctly. 

I have studied communication for over a decade, both externally or spoken, and internally or thoughts. It amazes me how communication can go awry and cause problems, and I’d like to share some critical tips in leadership, although they are simple.

If you get in a pickle, just come back to these 3 strategies. 

One, your colleagues and teammates are like puzzles. As a leader, it is your responsibility to uncover how they wish to be communicated with. What are their preferences? If the goal of your communication is to educate, influence, or persuade someone to do something, then you best give it to them in a way that is easy for them to pick up. 

Here’s what I mean. 

  • Do they prefer one on one conversations instead of group chats? 
  • Do they prefer email over text or vice versa? 
  • Do they see things big picture first, or do they really need the details to get started? 
  • Can you zero in on the words they use to convey how they think or process information? Things like visual, auditory, or kinesthetic predicates. I “see” what you mean. “Tell” me more about that. I need to get a better “feel” for this. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pay attention to the cues they give you and then use them to create communication that serves everyone involved. 

Two, listen twice as much as you speak. God, The Universe, or whatever higher power you believe in, gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. That’s the ratio for communication. Listen twice as much as you speak. It’s just that simple. Ask open-ended questions. Clarify what you heard. Make them feel listened to. It goes such a long way.

Three, it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. I can’t tell you how many times I had said that to my husband because of the look on his face when he told me something. Keep in mind that it’s not just the words that you use. It’s the tone you use, the way you hold your body, your facial expressions, the gestures that you make that all sum up the message. 

Have you ever heard the term “facial leak”? It’s when someone can’t keep what’s going on in their head, off of their face, and the message is easily conveyed without words. 

You work with other people. Please get to know them as people, and when you do, take the time to notice their preferences because communication is your responsibility as a leader. Post this on your wall somewhere.

The meaning of YOUR communication is the response that YOU get.

Suppose you got the response that you wanted, great! If the results missed the mark, what was so clear in your head wasn’t for the person who received the message. 

Until the next time, here is wishing you the clarity you deserve and the communication skills you require.