Mark is a leadership coach and is currently collaborating with a company that requires his expertise. He has to work with two senior employees—Steve and Maria—who are high-potential leaders as well. While he designed his program around leadership coaching, the more he interacted with them, he realized that both Steve and Maria need to amp up their leadership communication skills. Steve struggles with getting people onboard and Maria has issues putting her thoughts and ideas across in a lucid manner. Making the onboarding process seamless and effective communication of ideas are both essential leadership qualities.
When you are at the top, transparent communication with your colleagues and juniors becomes more imperative than ever before. Also, with the rise in virtual working, proper communication—which often trickles down from seniors to subordinates—is the foundation of every organization.
But effective leadership communication is something that has to be worked upon for a considerable amount of time. It requires evaluation of the specific problem area, setting a goal to overcome that and coming up with a way to action it. This is when organizations rely on communication coaching and this is why it’s an integral part of any leadership coaching program.
Communication coaching helps company leaders ace brand representation, sound decisive in front of juniors and express themselves confidently among peers. No leadership coaching is complete without a walkthrough in communication skills. Here’s a lowdown on why you should integrate communication coaching in your leadership coaching program.
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What’s communication coaching?
A straightforward way to define communication coaching is coaching that helps individuals learn and hone their communication skills and emerge as better communicators at work or in personal life. Leaders may work with communication coaches to get visible results when a major chunk of their daily tasks depends on effective communication—whether they are delivering a speech, making a sales pitch, giving presentations to clients or even dealing with their subordinates.
For instance, when a leader has a hard time rallying his/her team, it’s a red flag and an indicator that the individual needs to work on their leadership communication skills. He/she isn’t getting the desired outcome from the team. In communication coaching, you observe your clients, get an idea of their challenges, provide feedback and help them come up with feasible solutions for bigger roadblocks as well as minor hitches.
As a leadership coach you need to know how to coach senior executives on spoken communication skills. You might have to deal with a leader who needs help overcoming a language barrier, or needs help with confidence building… Leadership communication coaching addresses a wide array of communication-related issues.
Why sessions on leadership communication skills should be a part of leadership coaching
Coaches work very closely with leaders to deal with particular areas of communication with which they are grappling. That’s because communication is a top-rung factor for leadership success in organizations. If communication is smooth and effective, it makes for strong collaboration, trust, and increased productivity. On the other hand, bad communication spells disaster for companies.
Solid communication through social technologies is a smart and effective way to raise productivity in today’s age. A survey by McKinsey reveals that such communication helps raise productivity by 20-25%. Let’s look at more reasons why leadership communication coaching is an essential part in any leadership coaching program:
1. Helps identify and work on respective limitations
Many coaches come across clients who communicate using fillers such as “like”, “umm”, “kind of”, etc. Many leaders, despite being good at their job, come across as unassertive, hesitant and often avoid eye contact with others. It’s with the help of communication coaching that such individuals can identify their blind spot and try to eliminate the same.
However, during the course of communication coaching, the client is never made to feel self-conscious or sorry about his lack of communication skills. Instead, effective communication coaching is done with compassion and instils self-confidence over time.
Like any other form of coaching, leadership communication coaching is also a gradual process. The client gains trust in his/ her ability to interact confidently with others, especially in a work environment. A communication program is specifically designed around the client’s needs. Hence, it helps get rid of self-doubt and leaders stop thinking “how do I speak confidently in a meeting?” or “how do I make small talk before that impressive sales-pitch?”, etc. Coaching works faster than anything else as the communication coach works alongside the client—he/ she has the client’s back.
2. Teaches leaders to use inclusive language
An individual could be a very good communicator in different social situations. But that really doesn’t guarantee that he/ she would be a great communicator as a company leader. When an individual is a leader and addressing his/ her subordinates is one of his/ her daily activities, inclusivity in communication is very important. But inclusivity doesn’t always mean using gender-neutral language. Often leaders are prone to use specific professional jargon even with the newbies. This frequent use of unfamiliar lingo leaves the new recruits feeling like outsiders.
Communication coaching helps leaders use “people first language”. For instance, when a company leadership says “a female HR will conduct talent reviews with managers”, it doesn’t portray inclusivity in your language. Instead, one should frame it as “a woman from the HR department will conduct talent reviews with managers.”
3. Guides leaders to remain transparent in their communication
Many company leaders believe that the only way to establish authority is by portraying themselves as unapproachable. On the contrary, communicating with your peers and subordinates is key to being a good leader. When subordinates know exactly what they are expected to do and know that you’ve got their back, it positively affects their performances. Hence, transparency is one of the most important leadership communication skills that ensures that all the employees are singing the same song.
Transparency in communication, say by communicating via common channels, helps improve team work and generates a feeling of inclusion among employees. Other best practices include asking your clients to send a detailed MO in every meeting invite, and discuss work obligations and expectations with their subordinates on daily calls. And last but not the least, ask your clients to practice what they preach.
4. Helps show empathy while communicating
One of the most important qualities of a leader is empathy. When people reach the summit of their career, they often tend to block other’s opinions out. A communication coach’s involvement is a must here. It is very important to help leaders realize that communication is not just about interaction; it is about interacting with empathy and to come across as a good listener.
Build a leadership communication program around encouraging active listening. Drive home the fact that it’s crucial for leaders to learn how to respond to their subordinates.
5. Makes the process of providing feedback seamless
Providing real-time feedback to subordinates is an important, tactical leadership communication skill. When feedback is offered once in a blue moon, it leaves employees confused about their contribution in the organization. Regular feedback helps employees identify their strength and weaknesses and be mentored accordingly.
In communication coaching, you can help your clients make the process of providing regular feedback seamless. Encourage them to share appreciation on a common platform so that the entire team can celebrate the achievement, and encourage one-on-one feedback calls on a regular basis.
Communication is one of the hot coaching topics in leadership coaching today. With great leadership communication skills, clients become more confident, clearer, and effective in their approach, and create greater trust, visibility, collaboration and productivity among teams. No wonder communication coaching is not just a good-to-have in today’s world.
Bear in mind that leadership communication coaching is not just a one-time affair. It’s a continuous process.
Sources: Becomemorecompelling, Connecttothecore, Growthspace, Uptickapp, Indeed, McKinsey
1. How do you communicate effectively with executives?
The best way to communicate with executives is by observing their methods of communication very closely. Also, make sure you are not communicating out of context. You should prepare well in advance in order to communicate with executives, so that your message adds value to the conversation.
2. What is leadership communication coaching?
Leadership communication coaching is a method of guiding leaders to become better communicators in an office environment. Leaders may work with communication coaches to get visible results when it comes to leadership communication skills—whether they are delivering a speech, making a sales-pitch, giving presentations to clients or even dealing with their subordinates. As a leadership coach you should know how to coach senior executives on spoken communication skills.
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