“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes
James Humes isn’t wrong – all we have to do is look to the great leaders of today in business and politics and we can see the power of what they say and how they use their well-honed communication skills to inspire, impassion and impress. What his quote doesn’t say is that developing the art of communication is actually the key to developing leadership skills – it’s an art that can be learned with the right training, and proves an effective tool for anyone at any level in any industry who wants to realise their full potential to impact their organisation. While creative problem-solving and technical skills form the foundation for meaningful change, it is the art of influence – of communicating ideas effectively and powerfully – that takes this foundation and transforms it into real, measurable results.
Mastering the facets of effective communication
Communication is a complex process that requires a set of skills that many people struggle with, and employees, team leaders and managers are no different. With training, we can understand this process better in order to apply it in the workplace to effectively influence change, as well as understand our own personal communication stumbling blocks. The first step in this process is understanding the different elements that come together to make someone an influential and powerful voice.
- Compelling, clear speaking: The ability to clearly articulate and deliver your message in a way that your audience understands is pivotal to effective communication. The language and way we choose to deliver our message must be tailored to connect with the intended audience. This means understanding your audience, knowing your listener’s potential reaction and controlling this through strategic word choice and delivery.
- Active listening: Communication isn’t a one-way street and shouldn’t be approached as an order or statement where the audience cannot respond. Listening to your audience and considering their feedback without judgement helps clarify your message, prevent misunderstandings and, essentially, develops trust and respect between parties. Where relationships built on trust are developed, communication becomes easier and clearer, and results more certain.
- Body language: Most of the time we’re unaware of how we express ourselves through body language, but at the same time we’re very conscious of the body language of those around us. These subconscious messages have considerable impact on how our verbal messages are received. To communicate effectively, we need to train ourselves to project a calm, open and strong message through our body language, rather than one that is tense, uncomfortable or nervous.
- Influence over manipulation: Being able to get your message across in a powerful and meaningful way should not be confused with the ability to manipulate. Manipulation is rooted in control that is given power through fear, pressure and unfairness, and works to benefit the manipulator’s self-interest. Influence is the flip side of that coin, where the influencer actively considers others, and uses strong rapport, self-awareness, two-way communication and respect to gain positive, meaningful results not just to support their own interests but for the positive gain of those around them and the organisation as a whole.
Supporting a culture of communication
Workplace culture is the personality of your business, the “who we are” and “how we operate” rather than the products and services provided. This influences some of the most crucial elements of a company, from determining whether they’re a strict, hierarchical bureaucracy or a free-thinking, creative powerhouse, to staff turnover and the ability to attract top talent. Increasingly, having a positive workplace culture is seen as a fundamental asset that companies need in order to get ahead, grow and fully harness their potential – and effective, impactful communication skills are pivotal to achieving this. This means:
- Investing in employee communication skills development: Communication skills are not just for team leaders and management, they are most effective when developed across the board. A clear understanding of interpersonal transactional models, ground grounded in practical exercises is key to learning how to initiate and maintain influential interpersonal communication.
- Collaboration through fluid communication: Open communication between team members and throughout an organisation is as much about boosting performance and engagement as it is about creating a positive and more harmonious workforce.
- Giving employees a voice: Developing an engaged workforce is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses worldwide, and one of the most effective tools to achieve this is by developing effective communication skills. Knowing how to encourage employees to share ideas and input, creating that relationship of trust and respect, and taking in feedback at every level is crucial to short and long-term success.
- Recognising and rewarding work well done: Strong communication skills ensure constructive communication from leadership to employees as well as feedback from your team. Using these communication skills to recognise work achievements makes employees feel heard and valued, significantly reducing turnover rates while increasing morale and engagement.
Harness your full potential with proven business communication skills development
At Maurice Kerrigan Africa, we focus on giving companies the tools their workforce needs to gain that essential competitive edge. In our Influential Business Communication course, we address the challenges that modern businesses face by focusing on the development of essential interpersonal communication skills.
With a strategic approach that combines the latest in communication theory and transactional models with practical experiential learning exercises, course participants learn to recognise their own communication strengths and weaknesses and transform these into well-honed skillsets adaptable to any workplace situation.
With a skills-orientated approach based on best practice theory and grounded in individual business coaching, we offer a tailored approach customised to your personality, capabilities and style. This makes the two-day course ideal for both small and large businesses, and useful for staff across your organisation, from administration and technical staff to management and supervisors.
Click here to look at Maurice Kerrigan Africa’s public course training schedule.