To become a great leader one should be a great communicator. Great leaders are considered first-class communicators – they have a clear set of values and they always believe in promoting and instilling those values in others.

A great communicator does not mean a great talker. There is a big difference between the two. Talkers talk. Communicators chose their words to convey the intended message. Which one are you?

Here are a few strategies that new managers and seasoned leaders can use to help improve their communication abilities:

  1. Get honest feedback

This first step can be tough, but you need to put your ego aside and find out what others really think about your communication skills. Ask your staff, colleagues and supervisors to share a frank assessment of your writing, speaking and presentation abilities. It’s important to explain that you want to refine these crucial skills and welcome all constructive feedback. Sense some employees might be hesitant to participate because they fear negative repercussions? Consider conducting an anonymous survey.

  1. Know your audience

One size does not fit all when it comes to effective communication. Good leaders understand the diverse needs of their staff and tailor their messages accordingly. For example, your Gen Z workers may want frequent but informal in-person feedback, while your boomer employees may prefer to receive emails and attend monthly touch-base meetings. Find out what works and implement it – consistency is key and builds trust!

  1. Put in extra effort at crisis time

Good communication is especially critical during major endeavours like a merger. But it can be tempting, with everything else you have to do, to delay one-on-one meetings and staff updates.

Change can be disruptive to your team and cause frustration, confusion and low morale if not handled correctly. A time of change is the precise time to keep people more in the loop. So, make staff communication a non-negotiable aspect of project and change management.

TIP: Developing a crisis response manual allows leadership the opportunity to identify possible scenarios, actionable plans and communication strategies in advance of a crisis.  Therefore, no need to delay communication with key stakeholders – employees being a top priority.

  1. Listen more (and more closely)

The best communicators always have a unique quality of listening peacefully while others are speaking. This makes them good observers and enables them to read nonverbal cues quickly and respond accordingly.

  1. Be available

In this era of open office spaces and remote working, a literal “open door” policy may not be relevant. However, the concept of keeping the door open to communication is still very much applicable in the modern workplace.

Accessibility – both physically and digitally. Give team members plenty of options for communicating with you, such as in person, email or phone. Most of all, make sure they feel welcome and not like they’re interrupting you.

Effective communication is an overused phrase, but there’s a reason for that: It’s an absolute requirement for today’s leaders — and a skill set that many need to improve.