There are many types of leadership skills that leaders may find themselves spinning to find the best way to lead their teams.
The top five leadership skills for an effective workplace are:
- Give performance feedback to employees
- Provide clearly defined expectations of each employee
- Inform employees what they can expect from you
- Be decisive
- Address conflict
1. Give feedback to employees.
If you want to have a highly functioning team where everyone is able to contribute at their best potential, you have to help them along the way. You need to let your employees know when they are meeting the expectation or when they need to do something different. Characteristics of effective leadership are founded on open dialogue. A lot of leaders struggle to just speak candidly about small items, perhaps the way someone writes an email or their tone of voice while on the phone. Or bigger issues, such as when an employee consistently fails to meet an expectation.
Some leaders believe that the employee should know better. Some leaders believe that the employee knows what they were hired to do, and that “common sense “should tell them how to be performing in the workplace. But the employees behavior is showing you otherwise. Leaders need to be able to tell their team when they are hitting the mark, when they need to do something different, and when they are exceeding the expectations. Employees like to know where they stand. And if you want to have an effective workplace, you need individuals meeting the expectations of the job. Giving feedback is a leadership skill that can truly change how well an organization is run and impacts the ability to retain good people.
2. Provide clearly defined expectations of each employee.
The importance of leadership skills is most evident when you have employees that do not understand what they are supposed to be doing in their jobs. All cooks, no chef. Many leaders believe that an employee should simply “know”. They should know that this type of email should be sent with those people copied on it or that it is not appropriate to wear a certain type of clothing to work. When you have clearly defined expectations, you eliminate misunderstandings that hinder an effective workplace. You help eliminate frustrations caused when an employee believes they should be doing one thing and what the leader believes they should be doing another.
When you have clearly defined expectations, it is not about opinion. An employee does not have the opportunity to believe that you are imposing your own personal opinion about the employee or the responsibilities, but you are holding the employee accountable to the already defined expectations. It becomes about work performance and not about a managers personal preference. If you are going to give an employee feedback and hold them accountable to expectations, those expectations must be clearly defined and communicated!
3. Inform employees what they can expect from you.
Employees need to know what they can expect from you. I need to know what sort of questions they can ask you, when they expect to see you again, what sort of support you can give them. Employees need to be communicated how they can count on you. They need to know what they can go to you for, how much time can they expect you can give them. Employees want to understand. Effective leadership skills does not always follow a special custom formula with metrics. Employees feel better when they have context. When you give them structure around the ways you can be available to leave them and that you do indeed want to hear when they are struggling, they will come!
The role of communication in leadership is to intentionally support an employee, not passively wait to listen. An open door policy is not enough. You will hear about challenges when they first arrive and not when they have spun out of control! Employees need to know when they can count on you, instead of making assumptions about what they can expect from you and then become disappointed, and lose trust. There are no misunderstandings because we have communicated it upfront.
4. Be decisive.
Leaders must be decisive. They must step in and utilize communication for leadership success. The buck has to stop somewhere. Someone has to make the tough decision. Someone has to decide. Someone needs to determine direction, and determine when it’s time to move forward on a project. Leaders must be able to quickly make decisions about day-to-day items that slow employees work performance down. Developing leadership skills is not always comfortable, it may require making the unpopular decision. A leader must be able to make the tough call. When issues persist, the leader must take the stand and make the decision.
5. Address conflict.
Leaders must be able to resolve the conflict in the workplace. The role of communication in leadership is to be the pathway through which you make an impact. Resolving conflict is central to a positive and efficient workplace. Conflict does not go away on its own very often. And if it does fade away, how well was the issue resolved and how do those involved feel about it?
Many leaders are not comfortable with difficult conversations so they avoid them all together. Or a leader believes that a situation should work itself out for that situation is petty and should just resolve itself because there are more important matters at hand. And yes! Sometimes conflict does start over small items. But that small issue can get in the way in big ways! A leader must be able to resolve with getting on the way whether they believe it to be substantial or not. Conflict needs to be addressed so we can move forward and past it.
Leadership communication skills training can be the first step to updating how a leader manages. Even if a leader just attempts these five skills, they are making more progress than not! A leader who shows progress to developing leadership skills is going to make a better positive impact in the leader who looks the other way.
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