Executive communication skills
Can you imagine a successful executive who is a poor communicator? Me neither. There’s no doubt that successful executives need to develop and exhibit effective communication skills. Some of the best examples of chief executives with powerful communication skills include Jack Welch, Steve Jobs and Lee Iacocca.
Naturally there are various aspects of communication, and the level of competence might vary across the specific aspects. Bills Gates was uncomfortable on stage, yet he was more convincing in intimate settings. Richard Branson is a terrible public speaker, full of filler words yet he is able to convey his messages with bold actions and statements. He’s communicating with his best strengths. Elon Musk appears as an oddball yet at times the richest man on earth. Do these people prove the point or illustrate the exceptions? I suspect that their communications skills are demonstrated in other ways.
Let’s assume that you are none of the above and you want to improve your effectiveness and success as an executive leader.
What are the communication skills that an executive leader might need to develop and exhibit?
You might be brilliant, yet if you are unable to convey your messages or understand your people, you will fail as a leader. You are simply brilliant and might make a successful engineer, executive assistant or inventor but not an effective leader.
Where does executive communication start?
All communication starts and ends in your mind. As an executive you must think differently than a line worker, supervisor or manager. What’s most important is the mission, the team and results.
Think beyond today. Think beyond the immediate goal. Think long term. Think broadly. Consider other perspectives. What else might you consider? You are paid to think, so think better than the rest. This doesn’t mean that you have all the answers, simply that you have thought about the possibilities and perspectives which leads to the next point about asking questions.
When you are the executive leader, you need to ask better questions because you want to encourage your team to offer suggestions and answers. Your questions should not be threatening nor trapping – simply thought provoking. Can you do that?
You might ask:
Tell me more about that
Have you considered…
What other options are there?
What else should we know?
What assumptions have we made so far?
What’s the flaw in this plan?
What is our backup?
Make it safe for your people to answer wrong because you are asking for ideas and possibilities.
The best leaders listen better. Perhaps you thought it was about you talking. No! You will be a better leader when you train yourself to listen better.
Listen without judgment. Listen for perspectives. Listen for fresh ideas. Listen for challenges. Listen to demonstrate empathy. Listen to understand. Listen for the perspectives or message that your team is sidestepping. Listen for the unspoken words.
As an executive leader you will encounter several conversations. You will need to talk with your executive team, your managers and general staff. The theme needs to At be consistent while the details of the message can vary. You might need to converse with your board. That will be an unique conversation that you must prepare for every time. Another conversation is that with key suppliers and customers.
The best conversations are both challenging and rewarding.
Executive public speaking
As an executive and especially as the chief executive you are expected to speak in public. We need to hear from you.
At some point you will need to stand up at the front of the room and speak to the group in a convincing way. Are you ready to do that? How might you become a more effective public speaker when you are the executive leader?
Study the principles of public speaking. Practice the techniques and work with a public speaking coach. Your coach will help you leverage your strengths, remove the flaws and transform your public speaking skills to a superior level.
When you are ready to improve your executive communication skills, reach out to George Torok – the Speech Coach for Executives.