Successful companies result from more than a good idea at the right time. If you look behind the best companies in the world, you'll see a great leader. This is why investors commonly say they invest in the founder more than the idea itself.

As a founder or CEO, it is your responsibility to lead and inspire your team to execute on an idea and create results. Consistent, effective communication inspires your team, attracts top talent and closes the deals you need to grow.

So, just how do exceptional leaders communicate? Here's a list of 10 communication habits that great leaders develop and practice to achieve their success.

They inspire

How do you recognize a leader? Mostly, it's the way they make you feel. Effective leaders are pros at inspiring the people around them.

Great leaders always talk about what's possible and they paint a picture of the world they want to create. They stay focused on their purpose, and they don't hesitate to share that with others. Most of all, they believe in that purpose.

Think about your purpose and why your company exists. Think about the people you help and how it makes you feel. Share that with others.

They know the power of body language

When it comes to leading, it's important to appear strong, gesture confidently, and dress the part.

Watch TED talks, and you'll see the best speakers engage their whole body in the conversation. Onstage or offstage, effective leaders also look for changes in their audience's facial expressions or body language to measure how well they're communicating - and adjust their interactions accordingly.

They stand for a vision and mission

You'll always find an effective leader connecting a team's effort to an overarching vision and mission. Leaders take every opportunity to reinforce the company mission, including daily conversations, at the start of meetings, in one-on-ones and even while interviewing candidates.

Effective leaders tie everything back to the reason the company exists in the first place.

They're grateful

Pay attention to how leaders engage, and you'll notice a theme of gratitude. They thank their employees for their hard work; their audiences for listening and engaging; and people who support them in any way. Leaders know how to say thank you - and they do it often.

They speak confidently

Leaders speak confidently by taking the Goldilocks approach: not too fast (though they could, given their expertise) or too slow (so as not to lose someone's attention) - but at a natural pace, and with calm conviction.

They think before they speak

Have you noticed how successful people pause before they speak? By doing so, each word is more effective and their concise language conveys confidence.

Try it for yourself. Pausing even two or three seconds before speaking will help you convey more intention and confidence in your daily conversations.

They listen

Leaders allow sufficient time for listening. They appreciate the richness of diverse opinions and the opportunity to learn, advance and improve - whether it be their own performance or a given situation. Practically minded, they view listening as productive and an avenue to better results.

They maintain eye contact

Making eye contact is important. Maintaining it speaks volumes. Great leaders give you their full attention the entire time you have with them. Granted, the time allotted may be short, but true leaders will look you in the eye and absorb what you're saying - without glancing at their cell phones or papers on their desks.

They are politely direct

Effective leaders know the dangers of information vacuums and ambiguity. They believe in communicating directly and clearly. You always know where you stand with an effective leader.

What happens if you don't have an answer to convey directly? There is safety in an answer like "we're still thinking about that," because it comes from a place of intent and authenticity -- and the knowledge that you'll receive the information you need at the right time.

They don't complain

Part of being an effective communicator involves avoiding the pitfalls that make you less likable. One big habit to stop is complaining.

Complaining is like yawning. Once you do it, someone else will do it. Soon you'll breed a culture of complaining. You want the opposite. Set the tone and lead by example by not complaining.


Honing these skills requires self-awareness and deliberate practice. The best way to do this is to practice one at a time, until they become a habit. Also, identify the best leader you know and observe them. Study their habits and use them as an example of what to do.