While putting others' needs before your own or creating a culture of accountability are key for becoming a powerful leader, your vision and goals won't translate to reality if you aren't able to communicate them effectively.
In fact, Sam Walker the author of The Captain Class stated in a recent interview with me on the Follow My Lead Podcast, "The best leaders are always communicating, almost to the point where it's tiring. All of the captains of the greatest sports team's of all time were extremely effective communicators even though they weren't always eloquent."
Powerful communication will allow you to better connect with those you lead and inspire them to produce their best work. Here are four ways you can improve your workplace communication practices.
1. Make time for one-on-one meetings.
You should never underestimate the value of one-on-one meetings with your employees. Regularly scheduling these meetings will strengthen the relationship between you and your team by giving you an opportunity to provide personalized feedback, check in on current projects and share pertinent information.
These meetings are so valuable that I try and carve out one-on-one time with each member of my team every week. It almost never fails, the weeks I make time to give them my full undivided attention, they perform better that week. Since most of these meetings happen unscheduled instead of scheduled, there will certainly be weeks where they don't happen. They key is to never go more than a couple weeks without making it a priority.
2. Take advantage of today's tech options.
Studies have found that worldwide, 70 percent of employees work remotely at least once per week, with 53 percent spending at least half the week outside of the office. While this can make consistent communication seem like a challenge, using the many tech options available today will allow you to keep in touch.
"Even if you're geographically distant, there are plenty of resources that allow for both one-on-one and group communication," says Agnes Jozwiak, brand and communication director at ClickMeeting, a best in class webinar software provider.
"For example, a webinar provides an easy way to give a live presentation to your remote employees. While there's nothing wrong with sending an email, giving remote workers the chance to see your face and hear your voice -- both in group and individual settings -- will have a much greater impact and show that you care about their contribution."
3. Ask for ways you can improve.
Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google and current CEO of Humu, has often been cited for helping his former company's simple yet unique method of conducting peer reviews. Rather than simply having management provide feedback for lower-level employees, Google's management also gets feedback from junior employees on things they "should do more of and one thing they could do differently."
If this tactic works for one of the most successful companies in the world, it should work for you, too. Soliciting feedback from your employees is a way to build trust and improve your leadership skills. Consider sending emails to your team once per quarter asking what you're doing well and how you can improve to better help them meet their potential.
A desire to improve is a core attribute of a great leader, and it's why we have every leader who goes through the Ultimate Leadership Academy at LearnLoft complete our 360° assessment. Whether its as simple as an email or as in-depth as a 360°, seeking feedback from your people will help you build upon your already strong foundation.
4. Focus on Your Body Language.
Communication doesn't just happen through verbal or written words. A major part of communication is your body language. A study of teachers and students in the 1990s by Psychologists Robert Rosenthal and Nalini Ambady found students needed to only watch the body language of a teacher in short segments to make judgments that accurately predicted teacher end of year evaluations. They noted, "Body language is by far the most important factor and the teacher's words barely mattered, it's evident we communicate a great deal of information about ourselves through our body language."
When an employee sees you and recognizes positive body language they immediately are more interested in the words you might say or they will be able to draw conclusions about what you are communicating by your body language alone.
Becoming a master communicator doesn't happen overnight ...
It requires consistent practice as you make these communication tactics an integral part of the way you lead your team. But as you put in the effort to improve these and other skills, you will be better equipped to guide your company in the right direction and achieve your desired outcomes.