Of all the skills you need to be successful as a manager, effective communication is perhaps the most important--and often the hardest to improve. This is because communication isn't a single skill. It's actually a complex set of skills that build upon one another.

Through my firm's work with managers, we've identified these skills--25 in total--and organized them into a hierarchy of skill groups, starting with foundational skills and building to more advanced skills.

Whether you're a new manager, comfortable in your role or an aspiring CEO, building these skills will help you supervise team members, work collaboratively across the organization and manage up.

Here's an overview of each skill group, starting with the most basic: 

Interpersonal skills are the glue that holds communication together. Knowing how to successfully engage team members and build relationships with leaders and colleagues can mean the difference between your success and failure. 

The four fundamentals of communication are: 

1. Listening

2. Delivering information

3. Responding

4. Communicating verbally

Collective/team skills help you more effectively lead groups and work as a team in both formal and informal settings. You need to master both one-on-one communication skills as well knowing how to facilitate effective group communication. 

That means you need these skills:

5. Using email

6. Brainstorming

7. Negotiating

8. Resolving conflicts

9. Communicating goals

10. Recognizing team members

Comprehension skills enable you to create understanding for people who work with you--translating messages from leaders and making sure team members understand the company's strategy. To accomplish this, you need to know how to deliver information, influence beliefs and motivate employees to do their best work. 

These skills are:

11. Using storytelling to communicate

12. Making information relevant

13. Communicating persuasively

14. Facilitating dialogue

15. Writing

16. Coaching

17. Presenting

Process skills help you more effectively create and implement business processes that impact company performance. 

These include:

18. Making meetings matter

19. Communicating performance

20. Interviewing

21. Dismissing staff

Leadership skills are at the top of the communication skills hierarchy. High-performing managers are expected to demonstrate leadership.  And, because communication is an integral part of being an effective leader, the best managers have extremely strong interpersonal communication skills enabling them to be effective at:

22. Communicating change

23. Motivating employees

24. Building consensus

25. Getting leadership buy-in

Use this list as a guide for building your communication skills--and creating a roadmap for success.

Published on: Feb 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.