In my previous blogs in leadership development, I intrdocued “Become a successful leader (1): Everyday Leadership“, “Become a successful leader (2): Self-Awareness“, “Become a successful leader (3): Know who I am, and what personality I have.“, “Become a successful leader 4: Be an inspiring leader, The Golden Circle Theory“. Here, I would like to discuss another key component, “communication” in leadership development.

Communication is an art of understanding

Communication is an art where we need to keep creating understanding to deliver the right message between the talker and the listener. The communication process includes encoding our thought/ideas into words and behaviors and decoding this information into meaning. Misunderstanding occurs when the listener decodes the words and behaviors into a different meaning. To avoid the misunderstanding, we need to know 7C’s (correctcompleteclearconsistentcredibleconcerned/connectedculture) and 1 V (Volume). Moreover, what we do not say in the conversation and how we say it is very important to achieve effective communication.

Information transmission

Communication is a process of information transmission. Talker/Writer express ideas and thoughts in words or behavior, which encodes the message by one brain. The audiences decode the message to collect the information; however, each audience’s brain might translate it into different information. Also, in the human mind, emotions usually come faster than thoughts. Therefore, if you are in the mood, do not say anything or reply to any email because your emotion might highly affect your communication. In other words, we should always communicate with others in an adult-to-adult way.

Curse of knowledge

Cognitive bias usually occurs when an individual in a group unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand the message. For example, when we learn something new, such as cancer biology, we start to talk with professional words. Even if we are talking to other people without a biological background, we forget to explain the information or switch to simple terms to transfer the information. This is what we call the curse of knowledge. Therefore, we should always assume that we are not talking to experts if we do not know the audience.

Unconscious Communication

Sometimes there is a hidden message in our verbal or non-verbal expression. For example, intonation is a way to express the hidden meaning within a sentence. If someone said that “I didn’t say you broke my equipment,” we could try to stress a different word in the sentence to see if there is any difference.

  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment

Another example is body language. It is an interesting topic that sometimes we might unconsciously express our emotions through body language. If you found out that someone stands with folded arms when talking, you could assume this person disagrees with what you said.

Communication is based on trust

To have an effective communication, trust is an important factor to connect individuals in a group. There are 5 elements to build up trust: consistency, openess, loyalty, competence, and integrity.

  • Consistency: How often do you change your mind?
  • Openness: Do you share information about yourself or do you just expect others to do so?
  • Loyalty: Do you support people only when everything is great or also when they are struggling?
  • Competence: Do you know what you are talking about?
  • Integrity : Are your actions matching your words ? 

Communication Strategy for a good leader

A good communication strategy for a leader is to include both positive and negative aspects in your message and be specific and concise. An excellent example is that both U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and Massachusetts governor Edward Everett gave a speech after the Gettysburg battle in 1863 (Civil War). Everett’s speech was 2 hours long, and Lincoln’s was 2 minutes. However, everyone only remembers what Lincoln said in the address. Therefore, good communication should be short and specific.

If you are interested in Lincoln’s speech, it is the links for the speech and transcript.

Conclusion

Communication is very important not only for leadership but also for everyone in daily life. In the next blog, I will introduce how we communicate with people from different cultures and how we lead an effective meeting.

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