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The Language of Leadership: Flexible Communication Soft Skills

In the article “Let’s Chat”, in the publication Professionally Speaking: The Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers, Liz Papadopoulos said that “effective communication requires more than an exchange of information. When done right, communication fosters understanding, strengthens relationships, improves teamwork, and builds trust.” 

HR departments and recruiters look for applicants whose resume includes a demonstration of their soft skills. One of the most important soft skills a leader can have is their adaptability or flexibility, especially when it comes to their type of communication style. Your communication style might not work for a certain situation or with a particular employee. Being keenly aware and adjusting your communication style can go a long way in earning their trust, loyalty and dependability, ultimately driving the success of your team.

Some more common and well-used communication styles include:

Authoritative – Ever hear the phrase “do as I say do”?  This communication style is best used when complete direction is needed. Setting the expectations, even outlining the required actions, are aspects of this leadership approach. It doesn’t work for long but while it does, don’t expect independent thinkers and problem solvers to thrive, as people exuding this style can sometimes be over-confident and quite assertive.

Motivational/Encouraging – If you’ve ever experienced an employee asking for constant validation, this could be a sign that you must become more encouraging in your communication. A word of caution though: You might have the best intentions, but publicly encouraging your employee might actually backfire because not every employee will like it.

Persuasive – This style tends to empower others the most, likely because it engages the employees, instantly builds interpersonal connections, and embraces authenticity. So, instead of stating a situation, a persuasive leader engages in dialogue to seek issues that might need further investigation. Done correctly, both the leader and the employee will find that their “social capital,” or ability to work effectively, will drastically increase.

Direct – Those who think out loud will love this type of communication style, since they tend to be known for their transparency and authenticity. Employees relate to leaders who use a direct approach as they “know where they are coming from.” Clear messaging is an aspect of this style and, although many leaders mostly use it when resolving conflicts, a direct approach can be used in conjunction with other communication styles.

These four styles are known and used by leaders; however, employees also tend to have one or more communication styles, which is why flexibility is a critical aspect of this soft skill.

As James Humes, an author and former presidential speech writer, stated, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

How would you classify your communication style?

After retiring from the Federal Government, Sandra Hill launched her business – New Horizen Coaching & Professional Growth Advancement.  She has a passion for coaching (life, business, and career), helping those who seek to build their confidence while facilitating transitions in their personal or professional life. Sandra is a best-selling author, podcast host and writes career coaching articles for Forbes and other industry magazines.

Fulfilling her personal mantra, “Each one Reach one”, Sandra also volunteers with several non-profits and serves as a mentor and partner with local schools. 

Image courtesy of Microsoft 365 free stock images

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