The ability to effectively communicate may be the most important leadership skill an emerging woman leader can possess. Actually, I see it as a core competency in comparison to most of the others. It’s so essential to building relationship, building teams, and developing a winning promotion strategy. If you are challenged with communicating effectively, it can lead to failure and even discourage others from following you.
In my nearly 15-year career, I’ve had several leaders with poor communication skills. This of course has allowed me to see what NOT to do. One would say one thing but expected you to intuitively assume what he really meant. Another did not communicate at all because he had a bad perception of conflict and was too introverted to truly engage others. Still one more would communicate one thing to me and something else to another. Ultimately, communication is critical to the success of any organization and women leaders in general.
Effective communication allows others to easily understand the direction you are going, the strategy used to get there, and those instrumental in helping to reach the destination in record time. Ineffective communication however leads to ineffective teams and poor leadership. Targets will not be met efficiently, results will not be achieved, and individual morale will be negatively impacted in the process.
Women in leadership must constantly build their communication skills. There are several resources available if you find yourself challenged in this area. You can grab a book or take a class. Personally, I’ve taken training courses, attended conferences for speakers, been mentored by professional speakers, and even spent several years in college developing under a speech communications coach.
But nothing beats practice. Volunteer to facilitate a couple meetings for your management and speak up in discussions with your peers. If you are still uncomfortable to fully practice in the workplace, volunteer to mentor a small group of teen girls or lead a small group for your church.
Remember, speaking is something we women do often. It is a part of our DNA. At times however our natural instinct to talk too much with too many words takes over. Instead of making a statement, we make a statement and go on to share a long drawn out explanation… ten statements when one was fine. If this is you, please STOP IT!
Our words have influence and impact. Your voice is valuable in the workplace. You don’t have to oversell your great ideas.
Although I’ve been speaking since I was a young girl in the church for special Christmas and Easter programs, I’m acutely aware of what I say and how I say it when in the workplace. I must use the right words and speak with bold confidence. I must clearly communicate my goals and objectives. I must communicate often with the management team on the status of my projects. I must communicate with my team the right strategy to reaching our targets.
So, here are 10 tips to help you speak with more impact:
- Share your ideas with confidence.
- Share your thoughts on improving existing systems and processes.
- Present your ideas in the form of a statement not a question. Own your words and ideas.
- Don’t ask for permission. Speak affirmatively.
- Speak up in meetings. It shows engagement.
- Ask questions when there is a need for information.
- Be direct but choose your words wisely. Focus on “how you say it.” You lose the battle or offend others mainly in the presentation not the actual words you say.
- Use fewer words. Make every word count. Try not to ramble. Make your point and wait for a response.
- Think about what you want to say before actually saying it. Organize your thoughts.
- Don’t fear being perceived as too aggressive simply because you share your ideas and communicate with impact.
Your homework today is two-fold.
First, think about the men leaders in your organization. Select one who you believe is a good communicator. Visit his next organization meeting. Listen intently to how he speaks. What words does he choose? How does he deliver his message? What tone does he use in his voice? Are there any things in his speech that you can use to communicate more effectively?
Secondly, sell one idea to your leader. Think about what you want to say first. Write down your main topic along with two or three supporting points. When you share this would your leader close the discussion by asking his thoughts then wait for a response. This should open up dialogue.
This is all I have for Strategy #5. I’m working on my communication skills as we speak. Now, it’s your turn to improve your communication and share your ideas with impact. Let’s implement. Send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll talk to you soon. Strategy #6 will be in your inbox shortly.
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