Do a Google search for “qualities of great leadership,” and you’ll get 245,000,000 results. The lists of qualities vary a bit but there’s one consistent trait that makes the charts, and that’s being an excellent communicator.
I doubt that anyone is surprised by my search finding and with mass awareness about the needs of communication skills, why do we still see employee engagement floundering? According to a Gallup report, 70% of U.S. employees are disengaged overall. I see companies correlate great communications primarily in the form of a town-hall meeting or other top level correspondence. Although this is important among broader corporate communications, true employee engagement success falls on the direct manager of each employee.
Here are three ways to improve leadership communications and employee engagement. A double whammy!
1. Just ask them!
Why are we afraid to ask innocent questions of our colleagues? When coaching on the topic of employee engagement, it’s common for leaders to struggle with learning basic information about their teammates. When I ask, “how do they like to be recognized or what are their career aspirations,” most of the time the leader doesn’t have a clue. When I suggest asking them, they chuckle at how simple that sounds and yet it didn’t occur to have a simple conversation. It’s understandable since we have not been trained to be inquisitive listeners on the job. We’re laser focused on getting the job done, right? Sometimes, we have to pause and ask ourselves, “why not take the time and just ask them?” I’ve seen remarkable results from the actions of having purposeful conversations among teammates.
2. Go to lunch!
I’m also amazed at how stuck in the rut we get eating at our desks or skipping lunch overall because…we’re there to get the job done, right? I worked for a highly productive CEO who required himself to take lunch every day. Many times, he used this opportunity to take a teammate to lunch to stay connected and engage outside of the usual meeting room setting. The break in the day was invaluable to his productivity, kept him healthy, and employee engagement increased. We must be intentional about connecting with others and getting to know them as individuals, not just co-workers. Invite someone to lunch and ask them what they like to do for fun. You will be amazed at what you learn and would not have guessed.
3. Listen. Listen. Listen!
No, I cannot stress this quality enough. When we think of communication, we typically focus on just the talking portion. If we didn’t have silence among the notes, we would not have music. The same applies to our verbal and non-verbal communications. When we listen to others, it’s an expression of care, and no one cares what we have to say unless they know that we care. If we log the information that the teammate is sharing and ask them about it occasionally, it strengthens the relationship. Therefore; if the talking portion of communication is a struggle for you, practice the dying art of listening and watch yourself automatically rise up as a better communicator.
So, which one of my bullet-proof ways are you going to try to establish qualities of great leadership? Challenge yourself to acquire one of the highest qualities of great leadership, communications, and enjoy the accolades from your team when they say, “Wow, what a great leader he/she is. An outstanding communicator!”