If you asked somebody to sum up what makes a person a good communicator, the first skills they list would usually be about speech. The ability to choose just the right words or explain yourself succinctly can be very useful when you need to make yourself understood, which may explain why leaders often prioritise verbal skills as part of their professional development. The problem is that in communication, speaking is only half the story.
Dialogues create solutions
The ability to speak clearly and have people engaged with a monologue is a crucial skill for an after-dinner speaker, but for leaders, communication is based around exchange. At the most basic level, good verbal skills reduce the chances of misunderstandings, but leaders need to also demonstrate active listening; this involves a level of feedback and monitoring of the conversation to ensure that the right information has been taken on. If you remove the listening part of this exercise, there’s no way to sense check that the intended meaning has been received and understood.
Making this a little more complex, many leadership roles require mentoring – using experience, technical knowledge and a little creative thinking to solve issues raised by employees. This is where effective communication in terms of both listening and speaking can be critical to success. Understanding the scale and impact of any problem requires strong listening skills, otherwise important details may be missed. The same is true when working to find a solution to a particular issue; the ability to listen effectively, absorb the information, synthesise a solution and then communicate that to others is a collaborative process that simply doesn’t work with a unidirectional approach to information.
Effective communications make great leaders
Many professionals in management or leadership roles find themselves working not only collaboratively, but also as a co-ordinator between individuals and teams. Effective communication at any number of different points is very important; failure to keep up ongoing dialogue between departments can lead to data silos, bottlenecks in workflows and teams arriving at milestone points at different times, which can cause confusion and expensive delays. If each department head only transmits their update without reading the information coming in from other teams, it makes the process redundant.
The sheer volume of data and information transmitted worldwide every day is astonishing, which means businesses need leaders with effective communication skills more than ever. Although you may believe that mastering and demonstrating effective communication would be difficult, it’s actually a core part of the University of York’s online MSc programmes in Leadership and Management.
These new Masters degrees are delivered 100% online, allowing you to gain a prestigious Russell Group qualification that you can apply directly to your role without having to take an extended study break. Being able to earn while you learn takes a lot of the financial pressure out of gaining a postgraduate degree, but the University of York also offers pay-per-module programme designs and six start dates per year, so you don’t need to save or wait to begin.
Almost every business is a communication business these days and the ability to not only thrive in this environment, but prove your expertise to your current (or even another) employer could put your career on the fast track!