Leadership is a term often used to describe an individual or group who is placed in a role of authority. However, one who leads and is recognized as a leader is more than just a superior. This individual embraces an entirely different mindset. The person not only does what is asked, but goes well beyond the call of duty.
When we dissect the characteristics of strong and successful leaders, many things come to mind. Leaders seem to have mastered a toolkit of attributes that define them as such and set them apart from others. Some of the most common leadership qualities include commitment, integrity, poise, positive attitude, strong work ethic, forward thinking, empowering and highly motivated. Arguably one of the most crucial skills of a successful leader is the ability to communicate. This quality alone may be the entire reason a person can be regarded as a leader among peers and subordinates. One who possesses all the necessary skills must then be able to communicate them to be recognized with high esteem.
This week I have researched a few key concepts leaders communicate to those around them.
Environment – Leaders influence the climate of the organization. Based on their actions and interaction with others, they set the tone for the entire unit. This is the vibe or energy of the organization. It’s what people feel when they encounter an individual or company. It’s what lingers when they hang up the phone or walk away. It’s the perception they create and assign as good, bad or so-so.
It reminds me of the animated movie, Inside Out, which portrays a very tangible way for how an individual associates experiences with feelings. In the film, Riley’s memories are categorized into five emotions: joy, fear, anger, sadness and disgust. Each memory is represented by a color-tinted sphere and stored in the “long-term” warehouse. When she recalls a particular memory, she immediately associates it with the previously assigned feeling.
The aura isn’t just important for consumers, it also has a major effect on employees and in turn on the success of the organization.
Leaders’ effects on their environments are usually on display through circumstances. They exude poise and confidence. They keep cool in the face of challenging news. They serve as the compass for suitable reactions. They are highly concerned with organization morale and use appropriate means to keep it positive. They use humor to keep the workplace enjoyable and smiles to radiate its friendliness.
Openness – Leaders build organizations on integrity and trust. They are down to earth, real people who are transparent to those around them. They value the feedback from fellow employees and even seek it to stay updated on company issues. They are approachable and make a habit of listening and empathizing with others. They respond quickly and appropriately to challenges within the organization.
Commitment – They are hardworking and undeniably sold out to the work of the organization. They are one with the effort and it sinks into their bones. They view everything in life as relative to the organization. They set the example and are willing to do any task.
Empowerment – Leaders recognize the skills and talents of others and place them in positions to succeed. Leaders stay connected to people and they know what roles and tasks are best suited for them. They equip those around them with the necessary resources to achieve their goals. They challenge and push to greatness. Leaders unify the group and focus on attaining success together as a team. They also recognize, highlight and congratulate accomplishments as well as encourage in the face of defeat.
Shared vision – Leaders inspire others to dream. They encourage individuals not to settle, but to push the envelope and always thirst for more. They share a vision for the organization and provide objectives and direction to achieve it. They flatten hierarchy and promote equality from top to bottom. They respect all and take time to invest in people so everyone will see the value of the vision and “buy into” its principles. Leaders believe so strongly in the organization and its future, they practically breathe it when they speak. It resonates with them on a deep, personal level.
Communication – Yes, they communicate communication. I know it sounds a little redundant. It’s imperative that they do this well! Communicating well within an organization takes wisdom. They must have a pulse on the best and most effective channels within their employee system. This will look different for every environment. This can be every form of communicating from a phone call, to a Facebook message, a Twitter post or speaking in the hallway. It’s critical for a leader to know his or her message and how best to disseminate it. Other dynamics are important to consider when communicating, such as tone and nonverbal cues or gestures. All these play a part in how the message is received. Wording of the text, as well as its punctuation, in the message is key to others’ understanding.Leaders must be clear and concise when communicating an essential message. Employees need to be able to easily understand the intent without filtering through unnecessary fluff.
Leaders must be prudent in communication with employees. Many things are inappropriate to communicate because of confidentiality or privileged information. It’s important for a leader to know what can be shared, and what’s for his or her knowledge only.
This week I’ve become aware of just how important communication must be in leadership. It’s everything! It’s much more the physical communication taking place, but the transfer of intangible concepts as well. Leaders are the heart and soul of their organizations. They become that central piece because of their extraordinary ability to communicate not just with their words, but other principles essential to their organizations’ success including environment, openness, commitment, empowerment and a shared vision. Leaders who embrace these develop healthy working environments. That in turn leads to satisfied and purpose-driven employees. Happy employees strive for organization success and become walking advertisements creating a positive external brand image. It’s a win, win.