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12 definitive traits of a leader: Part 9-Skilled Communicator

By Jeff Custer | Monday, June 27, 2022

Effective leaders masterfully use communication to engage and motivate others toward the leader’s vision, ideas, plans, and goals.

Oftentimes, we mistakenly think of communication as a one-way street. Where one person shares information with others. But that definition is too narrow. Effective communication is a two-way street where information is exchanged between parties.

Why communicate?

For leaders, communication is a golden opportunity to engage and motivate people. It allows ideas to be passed back and forth to spawn creativity. Employees that know what’s happening in their organization and are listened to are more likely to become and remain engaged. In turn, increased engagement leads to greater motivation. Communication connects employees to the “why” in organizations.

What to communicate?

There’s an incredible amount of information available in organizations. So how do leaders discern what information to communicate to their teams? People want to know what’s going on around them. They want to know about information and decisions that will impact their jobs and lives. Share information that’s relevant to them. A failure to communicate important information creates a void—a void that’s most often filled by gossip.

Share successes, but also share challenges the organization is facing. It’s especially important to ramp up communication during times of significant change.

Leaders should be listening for underlying problems and issues. That’s the best way to work to correct issues before they fester and grow.

When to communicate?

There’s never really a time when communication is uncalled for. In fact, one of the key roles for leaders is constant communication. That should ramp up in times of conflict, uncertainty, or change. Because when people don’t know what’s going there’s a high risk of increased fear. And those fears will be amplified if information is lacking. Rumors and speculation about what’s happening will run rampant in the void of information.

How to communicate?

On one hand, you have the mode of communication: written, verbal, 1-on-1, or group conversations. And on the other, you have nature or intention of what is communicated.

Great leaders tell the truth and are transparent about what’s going on. They can differentiate between shareable and non-shareable confidential information.

Great leaders are clear in their communication. When they listen, they ask clarifying questions and admit when they don’t know the answer. And when they don’t, the commit to finding an answer. They understand that different people may require different communication styles and adapt to effectively communicate.

Leaders, make communication a top priority and make sure it’s a two-way street. Give information but be sure to listen just as much, if not more. Your organization will perform at a much higher level when information freely flows.

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Are you struggling to improve your effectiveness as a leader? Email me at for a free consultation.

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Jeff Custer is a long-time leader at both private and Fortune 500 companies where he has developed and led both high performance individuals and teams. He is passionate about developing leaders and building high impact teams. Jeff resides in the United States.

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