Here are the 7 communication basics you should implement now.
Many people think that because they can talk and write, they can communicate. But it’s not that simple, because communication is a two-way process. You need to be able to speak and write clearly, and more, you have to be sure that you are heard and understood. Effective communication is even harder. It isn’t innate, it’s a skill that I think we should work on every day of our lives and it requires self-awareness, training and practice.
This is especially true if you want to take on a leadership role and progress your podiatry career, because the ability to effectively communicate with your people is key to leading a team that thrives.
Effective leadership communication is not something a podiatrist commonly trains for and you don’t instantly develop the ability to communicate effectively when you take on a leadership role. You probably don’t get appointed into a leadership role because you are a great communicator, and yet it’s one of the key attributes that makes a great leader.
The very best leaders are terrific communicators. Their values are clear and solid, and what they say promotes those values. Their teams admire them and follow their lead.
After years of leading people, I have come up with my top tips for leadership communication to ensure your team thrives (in no particular order):
- Leave your ego at the door – A healthy ego is important as a leader, but to be an effective communicator you need to replace your ego with empathy. Working on your emotional intelligence should be a life-long journey. To me this means communicating with care, being authentic and transparent and having a high level of self-awareness. It’s also about having the discipline to be committed to continued improvement.
- You have two ears and one tongue – I recommend using them in that proportion! Speak less, listen more and engage in meaningful conversation. You really can get a better understanding of any situation by listening. And if there is a silver bullet for effective leadership communication, active listening is it.
- Do your homework – When you do speak, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Being a subject matter expert gives you credibility. And in a situation where your opinion is sought, take the time to understand the circumstances before commenting; it will give authority and integrity to your response.
- Be worthy of trust – To gain their trust, your team must be able to get to know you. This means you need to develop personal and meaningful relationships with your people, as this is the foundation on which trust and respect are built. This will help bring you closer to the truth of your team dynamics, allowing you to understand what’s working/what’s not in any situation.
- Remember it’s a dialogue – Speak in a way that encourages others to contribute, and know when to stop talking and pull back. You want your team to come up with the ideas, so give your people responsibility and space to grow – let your ‘shiners’ shine.
- Make each word count – Be simple and precise, which sounds easier than it is. I don’t mean ‘dumb things down’, I mean you should get specific, get to the point, don’t waste time and ensure your message is clear. Hopefully you have a team made up of people much smarter and more talented than yourself – don’t give directives, leverage your talent.
- Leave something behind – Rather than focus on the key message you want your team to take away, think about how you can use the communication opportunity to transfer skills and ideas, align expectations, inspire action and bring the company vision to life.
So that’s it! In my opinion, the most important key to great leadership is effective communication. To grow as a leader and manager, you must learn how to be an effective, compelling communicator. And if you want your people and company to succeed, you and your team have to master the art of clear communication together.
This is especially critical if you are managing a national team like myself, which is made up of podiatrists who spend most of their time working independently on site at various facilities. They need a leader who is a highly effective communicator that understands leadership communication is much more than the words we say – it’s about emotional intelligence, active listening and knowing your audience.
Leadership communication helps your podiatry team understand where the company is going and what difference they can make to the business, empowering them to take positive action. Think of your words as water – you need to give your team the right words at the right times to ensure their growth.