Want to be a Better Leader? Work on Your Communication Skills

June 16, 2015 04:34 PM
Want to be a Better Leader? Work on Your Communication Skills

Whether it's your farm business or a community organization, if you're looking to lead you have to be able to communicate.
By: Ximena del Campo, Dairy Extension Educator, Penn State University

Communicating in your workplace can be quite difficult even though this is something we do reflexively. Communicating effectively takes a bit of finesse by choosing the right words and listening intently, and clarity is key. Miscommunication can have serious repercussions in the workplace, such as poor productivity, unmotivated employees, and increased employee turnover to name just a few. The culprit? Lack of information.

Effective communication plays a very important role in developing long lasting employee motivation. Common features of a successful workplace culture include a clear organizational mission, open lines of communication, and culture. Culture is the environment that surrounds employees. It’s formed of values, beliefs, attitudes, and group behavior. It’s made up of all the life experiences each employee brings to the organization. Employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and profitability all are tied together. The workplace thrives when its people thrive. The right culture should encourage individuals and be consistent with the mission and vision of the workplace. For this to happen, it’s important to be transparent and set clear expectations. This brings us to our next subject, leaders.

It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. Employees will not open up to leaders they don’t trust. When people have a sense a leader is worthy of their trust and respect, they will work synergistically with him/her. The following expression couldn’t be truer: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Getting a perspective on what matters to others will help elevate communication, build trust, and improve relationships. Leadership has everything to do with those individuals the leader serves. Great leaders have many characteristics we often hear about: honesty, positive attitude, creativity, and the ability to inspire. Perhaps the most important characteristic of all is the ability to surrender or letting go. Capitalizing on the strengths of the team and knowing how to identify them is key. It’s about unlocking the potential of employees so they can shine in the spotlight. Control is about power, not leadership. Giving up or surrendering allows a leader to focus on adding value to employees, trickling down to customers. Control fosters a culture of fear, turf wars, micro-management, and stress and obliterates collaboration and innovation.

Successfully getting your message across and conveying your ideas and thoughts more effectively will help your organization. Remember, thoughts and ideas that are not conveyed clearly (that don’t reflect what you think) may create roadblocks, standing in the way of your professional and personal goals.

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