Communication Skills are the Most Important Leadership Skill Every Leader Must Have

Communication is one of the most challenging leadership skills every leader needs to effectively lead people. Yet, very few of us have ever learned how to communicate to build relationships, trust, and a collaborative team or workplace. There is a neuroscience behind conversations that create connection rather than distrust and it is called Conversational Intelligence or C-IQ. If having harmonious communication was not challenging enough already, there are two other factors that have increased the risk of conflict occurring due to miscommunications in the workplace and they are: our increase in online and digital communication as well as stress factors associated with high work volume and the pandemic. Leaders influence every aspect of a team, culture, and company and it all begins with communicating effectively.

How does Miscommunication Happen and How Can a Leader Prevent Communication Breakdowns?

Miscommunication happens so quickly and the pace at which we communicate has sped up; you add higher than normal stress levels to the mix and it is a recipe for a communication breakdown. In addition, every single one of us brings our own personality, experiences, personal needs, and physiology to every conversation which means there are a lot of diverging factors that need to be adjusted for in every interaction with others. If we are not conscious with bringing our full awareness to every interaction, which in reality is quite challenging even for the best of leaders, assumptions and judgements are easily made especially when they favor our point of view. Therefore, miscommunication happens due to the speed of our delivery, the possible lack of awareness in the moment we have an exchange, the differences of the people involved, and our nature to jump to assumptions as well as to make judgements.

Yet, with all this possibility of conversations going sideways, it only takes one leader with Conversational Intelligence © to prevent communication breakdowns. Here are a few steps leaders can take to prevent miscommunications:

  1. Be Curious and Ask Questions Before Making Assumptions
  2. Listen Deeply to the Words and the World of the Whole Person
  3. If you feel Stress, Communication Will be a Mess, Take a Break
  4. Never Deliver Discipline Digitally, Always in Person or By Phone
  5. Judgement is a perspective, not fact, get the facts
  6. Before Communicating Ask Yourself, “Am I reacting or responding?”

Leaders Can Develop Communication Skills that Connect and Create Trust

The greatest measurement of a leader’s communication effectiveness is in the culture they create in their teams and company, the trust in their working relationships, and the feedback from their team. However, how does a leader even begin to deliver these results without ever learning the foundations of effective communication that lead to conversations that build trust. There is a neuroscience to how we communicate called C-IQ and it provides a framework of principles, methods, and teachings that explain the science behind how to have conversations that will connect with others so they partner rather than protect. As a C-IQ Certified Coach, it is exciting to see the transformations in leaders once they learn the foundations of Conversational Intelligence. How leaders and teams improve their communication is by learning and applying the teachings and tools provided in C-IQ coaching and group facilitation. The following topics are what you will learn from C-IQ and when leaders understand these concepts, their communication skills transform to a level that builds trust:

  • What type of Communication and Conversations Cause Distrust and Trust
  • How every conversation is creating a chemical reaction of stress or partnering
  • How communication style affects our brain and impacts executive brain functions
  • The 3 Levels of Conversation with varying degrees of trust and how to go from I to III
  • Conversational Blind Spots we all experience until we know about them
  • How to handle conflict around the framework of T.R.U.S.T
  • Listening Skills and Asking Level III Questions that evoke Co-Creative Conversations
  • How to improve communication in and for a partnership with 10-10 Partnering
  • How to lead Conversational Agility with Reframing, Refocusing, and Redirecting
  • How to Lead Collaborative, Safe, and Co-Creative Meetings
  • How to Shift from I-Centric to We-Centric Leadership for trust and engagement

Communicating Has Become More Challenging in the Digital, Polarized, and Political World

Now more than ever, leaders and all of us, not only need to be aware of what we say and how we say it, but also, we need to understand the impact of our communication and improve how we communicate. The online, digital world in which we work that is also fast paced and often laden with stress, provides a multitude of opportunities where communication mishaps can and do happen. When we add to that polarized views, politics, and diverse people, communication has become extraordinarily challenging. Yet as leaders in our companies, communities, and families, we have the ability to lead communication away from volatility and reactionary states toward connection and collaboration. It only takes one person with communication skills to shift the whole conversation to a much better place. We can all learn how.

How to Improve Communication as a Leader, In Your Team, Company or Culture

Everyone at any point in time can improve their communication skills and become a better communicator as a leader or team member either at work or home, but it takes a commitment to learn and the intention to create conversations that connect. Here are a few steps you can take to improve communication:

  1. Listen More, React Less
  2. Learn C-IQ and the Neuroscience Behind Communication that Creates Trust
  3. Suspend Conclusions, Get Curious, Ask Questions
  4. Provide C-IQ Group Training to Improve Team Communication Skills
  5. When Triggered, Time Out. Know Your Stress Response, Get Space
  6. Create a Culture that Values Respectful and Collaborative Communication
  7. Set Intentions for How You Want to Be, Show Up, Communicate
  8. Check In How Your Communication Landed – Communication Landing Loop
  9. Lead with Compassion, Recognize Stress States in Others
  10. Know that Where there is Judgement, Trust, Connection and Communication Cannot Exist

As a C-IQ Coach and facilitator, I have witnessed first hand the powerful shifts that can occur in a relatively short period of time when leaders and companies learn how to improve communication. The ripple effect when C-IQ is applied by leaders, is felt throughout the teams, departments, and even to the employees experiences; it is profound and positive. This can create greater collaboration, saved time in meetings and prevention of conflict, lower turnover, greater workplace satisfaction, increased innovation, and less absenteeism.

There are a few options by which you can learn C-IQ and receive coaching or training to improve your communication skills. I do provide private Conversational Intelligence coaching where you can learn the foundations of C-IQ and also customize your program. In addition, I do provide online group training on effective communication skills for leaders, teams, and companies; these are also offered in person locally in the greater Vancouver area. Lastly, you will soon have the option to have a self-paced learning experience with an online course providing you with comprehensive modules on the neuroscience of communication and how to be an effective communicator.

If you would like to learn more or have questions about communication coaching or training, reach out to jody@jodykennett.ca. I am also available to speak about communication skills, the neuroscience of communication, and how to build a culture of trust through communication for: presentations, conferences, and podcasts.

Let’s go be Conscious Communicators and Lead with Communication!


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