Being a leader in a small business means you have to be a jack of all trades. One skill that is vital to your success as a leader is the ability to communicate effectively. Everything you do in your organization hinges upon communication skills. A recent article from Harvard Business Review gives some great tips for developing your “executive voice.”
Understand context. Make sure you are communicating in the right way at the right time. Often leaders have the urge to speak up and share their options, even if they aren’t actually the authority on a subject. Know when it is best to speak up, and when it would be better to listen. Ask for the input of others and avoid the “because I’m the boss” mentality.
Set aside time to think. Take time to think strategically about your role and your organization. Too often leaders, especially those working in small businesses forget to take the time to think creatively. They get too caught up in the day to day work. Part of your job as a leader is to think about the future of the organization.
Cultivate relationships. Another main focus of the leaders in your organization should be relationship building with employees. Take the time to really get to you know the people who work with you. Seek to understand what motivates them, what their life is like outside of the office and ways you can support them in reaching their goals.
Bring solutions, not just problems. You will find that your employees get frustrated if you point out things that aren’t going well, without offering any suggestions for improvement. Do your research and come prepared to be a part of developing the solution. Also, be sure that you are balancing any constructive criticism with positive feedback.
Stay calm. Practice staying calm in stressful situations or times of conflict. No one wants to work for a leader who reacts emotionally in tough situations. One tip: focus on the facts when confronted conflict of any kind. This will allow you to remain level-headed no matter how stressed you become.
Just like anything else, effective communication takes practice. Share these ideas with the leaders in your organization and ask each to focus on just one of them this week to see an immediate improvement in communication at your organization.