Management is the process of getting things done through the efforts of other people utilizing available resources.
Leadership is the process whereby a person can obtain the support and actions of others to achieve a common goal; people follow leaders based in part on the belief that leaders can and will pave the way regardless of obstacles.
In both cases, successful managers AND leaders posses strong and effective communication skills.
What are some of the common characteristics of great communicators?
1. They are really good listeners. Not only to hear and understand but to also demonstrate sincere interest in what they are hearing and who they are hearing from. Being a good listener is not always easy – distractions abound both externally and within your mind. When you are listening, be careful you are not formulating your response in your mind rather than listening. Strive for full understanding, and demonstrate that by asking questions. Don’t show signs of impatience; there is a polite way to get someone who is stuck on a tangent back on target: “I think we have wandered off the reservation – let’s get back on track and focus on what you were saying.”
2. They maintain strong and frequent eye contact. This goes hand in hand with focusing on the person or persons you are listening to. To not do so is to tell the speaker “what you are saying isn’t really important to me”! Not exactly a trust-building characteristic! Your eye contact needs to be “friendly” vs “threatening”; no glaring and certainly not continual….the operational phrase is frequent friendly eye contact. The two photos show the difference between “friendly” and “threatening” eye contact! Make sure yours is of the friendly variety!
3. They develop a “delivery style” that is energetic, lively and above all articulate. If you are not all three of these – get started on achieving them. Read out loud in front of a mirror. Ask others if you are a mumbler or otherwise not as clear as the network newscaster on the evening news. If you constantly insert “um” and/or “ah” into conversation – you really need to work on that. Have someone you trust listen to you and snap their fingers when you make those sounds to alert you to how often you do so – you may not be aware of the extent of this impediment. When you feel one coming on…just pause for a moment and then continue. Most people that say “um” and “ah” are buying time to think of the next word… so just pause for a fraction of a second while that next word comes into mental focus. Eliminating these from your speech is critical to being a great communicator.
As for the energetic and lively aspects, great communicators exhibit body language that portrays confidence, enthuasism and a high energy level. They show a sense of humor, they smile, and they vary their timing for emphasis where emphasis is called for.
We all can be better commincators… but like most things …it requires focus and work. Good luck!