5 Communication Skills You Need to Lead

There are various paths and ways into organizational leadership. However, despite the variables in routes and methodologies to get to the “top,” those who make it generally have specific communication skills in common that you can easily integrate into your own style to be an effective leader.

Focused team discussing project at table with laptops and notes.

These five communication skills separate leaders from the followers and can determine the impact you’re able to make in your organization.

1. Communication Skills Demonstrate Transparent Core Values and Authenticity

You don’t put on a show or pretend to be anything that you are not. Your interactions should support transparency and authenticity to your genuine self. Who you are  and what you believe should be apparent in your word choice, tone, attitudes, habits, actions and body language.  Consequently, people are able to take you at face value. Authenticity builds likability, trust and respect. Make sure that your communication skills demonstrate consistency with who you are and your values.

2. Powerful Presence


Leadership communication skills kick in before you even say a word. The way you carry yourself should convey authority, energy and passion. When you enter a room, your body language should be commanding and engaging.

Carry this authoritative presence in your tone, word choice and diction to command attention. When you’re leading a meeting, make sure you are facilitating the conversation and guiding the group to proactive conclusions, decisions or actions. When you’re participating in meetings, contribute, actively engage and take personal accountability. This doesn’t mean that you monopolize the discussion or don’t listen to others. However, it does entail that you take the lead when you’re in charge. And, when you are following someone else’s lead, you fully engage and participate. This means that you don’t shift down into auto-pilot and default to safe mode when you’re not in charge.

3. Clear Communication

You need to be able to take information for a variety of sources, analyze it, and synthesize it for your audience in clear, concise communication that is easy to understand. Avoid jargon and word choices that will alienate portions of your audience. Use exacting words, short sentences and simple messaging so that everyone can understand. Eliminate as much complexity as possible.

4. Build Credibility

Build credibility and trust by consistent communication that is accurate, concise and positive. Base your interactions on relevant data, accurate facts and strong reasoning. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and take responsibility to continue building credibility in the face of failure.

5. Demonstrate Competency

You do the hard work, and you do it well. Your work makes a tangible difference to people individually and the organization as a whole. Your communication skills have power, because you have substantive results behind them. You’re not all talk. You are a force of positive action. This inspires, persuades and engages others to follow your lead.


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