6 Critical Communication Skills to Becoming a Great Leader

Communication is one of the most important elements of being a great leader. Good communication is more than just talking to people, it’s building relationships, sharing a vision, or being able to make people see things the same way you do. Good communicators are able to create a message that takes a deep root with their audience, and that’s why they make such great leaders.

So how does someone become such a commanding leader? The following are 6 communication principles that are critical to being a great leader:

1. Know what you’re talking about

First things first- when you speak, know what it is you’re talking about. The best way to get people to listen is to show them that you have something valuable to share.  There seems to be a “fake it till’ you make it” mentality these days. But trust me, at some point people will be able start seeing through the façade. A good communicator not only nails the “how”, but also the “what” aspects of their message.

2. Get personal

An important part of leadership is building relationships and rapport. Many leaders think they can simply monologue for hours and expect everyone to be onboard with their ideas, but the best leaders have an open dialogue with their employees. Having meaningful relationships with the people you work with allows you to know what’s going on in your organization. Not only that, but employees that feel valued will be more productive and innovative on a daily basis.

3. Be Clear and Concise

Communicating with brevity and clarity is more important today than ever. Time is a precious commodity, so being simple and concise is always preferable than the opposite.  Not only is it a time saver, but its much easier for people to understand your message if it’s concise, versus having to muddle through loads of unnecessary non-sense.

Unfortunately communicating in this fashion is much easier said than done for many people. Even Abraham Lincoln is famous for having difficulty being concise, having once written in a letter, ““I'm sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have the time to write a short one.” Rewriting multiple drafts of a message is a helpful way to cut down to what actually matters.

4. Be a good listener

Good communicators know when to shut it off and listen to others. Listening to others gives you the opportunity to craft your own thoughts or opinions in a way that will be most relatable to those you are speaking with. Speaking without listening will not have the same effect as engaging in a meaningful conversation with someone. Listening is also the best way to gain new knowledge, and it shows that you value who ever you are speaking with, which helps build trust and high quality relationships.

5. Speak to groups as individuals

This is, by far, one of my favorite tricks to public speaking. Great communicators have the ability to speak in to room of hundreds (if not more), but somehow make it feel like they’re talking directly to you. Working the room, having a good cadence, making eye contact, sharing personal anecdotes, and making your presentation more relatable are all keys to achieving this result. This is a great leadership tool because if people feel like you are speaking with them specifically, they trust you more, feel more connected, and are more likely to buy in to your ideas.

6. Be down to earth, honest, and empathetic

Authenticity and transparency are traits that very few leaders have, but are often the most admired characteristics in leadership. People who have a leader whom they admire and trust will invest time and take risks in ways they never would for a leader with poor integrity or character. You can do you best to demand trust, but it rarely works. Trust is most easily earned by acting with honesty, empathy, and integrity.