Effective Leaders are Effective Communicators

| December 14, 2017 | 0 Comments


Chaplain Stephen Buchanan
500th Military Intelligence Brigade

In the Army and in the private sector, the best leaders are also effective communicators. Please note that I did not say great talkers, but communicators.

The keys to becoming an effective communicator cannot be taught solely in the classroom or in Army Regulation 25-50.

In the classroom, we learn vocabulary, tense, grammar, syntax and so on. In other words, we focus on ourselves, but not on how we are being received by those around us. Effective leaders share a few communication traits that are focused on those they serve or lead.

A learned skill that separates the great communicators from the mediocre is a keen awareness of people and surroundings. Two leaders who possessed that skill are retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and retired Adm. William McRaven. Both served in the Special Operations Command and led service members to accomplish significant feats. Both had great ideas that shifted the course of their respective organizations – McChrystal at Joint Special Operations Command and McRaven at U.S. Special Operations Command.

The shifts in culture and direction they achieved started with ideas they communicated with emotion and passion. This was turned into action when their staffs understood and took ownership of the mission.

Leaders at all levels, from the senior general officer to the young sergeant, spend a majority of their time in interpersonal communication. When this communication is executed poorly, problems arise. Effective communication is a must for mission success and developing those skills over time is a must to ensure a strong team.

The No. 1 thing great communicators have in common is that they possess a heightened sense of situational and contextual awareness.

The best communicators are also the best listeners. The best leaders are also the best followers.

The greatest communicators develop the ability to read a person or a group by sensing their moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns. In addition to reading their environment, effective communicators adapt their messages to that environment without missing a beat.

Effective communication has little to do with the messenger and everything to do with meeting the needs and expectations of those with whom you are communicating.

Effective communication is paramount at all levels of command. All of us, regardless of our military occupational specialty, train long and hard to do our jobs well. In the same way, we need to be constant learners of effective communication because this will develop us into effective leaders.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, Standing Columns

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