Communicates and Listens Openly and Directly  

Leadership Competencies

An organization needs a well defined set of leadership competencies, which it can share with their employees at all levels in terms of expectations. All roles need to demonstrate leadership, but not all leadership competencies are required by all roles. The level and intensity of leadership will change depending upon if you are demonstrating the same at individual level vs. managerial level vs. strategic level.

Communicates and Listens Openly and Directly

Communicates and shares the thoughts, ideas, issues, conflicts, agreements, dis-agreements openly and directly. Does not project any hidden agenda. Listens and understands the messages from others. Demonstrates openness and clarity in all forms of communications.

Demonstrating at Individual Level                   

  • Listen intently and sincerely to others: One says that listening is 90% of the communication. A leader listens to the others with a keenness that not only helps him to understand the speaker, but to also engage the speaker. There is nothing like 'showing the sincerity'. If you are listening intently, it shows irrespective of any other gesticulations. There is a view, which talks about the having appropriate posture of your hands, body and legs etc to give the right non-verbal cues to the speaker. Our view is to keep the life simple. Just listen to the speaker with genuine interest, and that sincerity will transcend to the speaker and he will sense it.
  • Adapts communication content and delivery to audience: An audience is your customer. Different Audiences have different personalities, priorities, and level of knowledge on the subject of discussion. Your ability to tailor your written and spoken communications to the context of the audience will help.
  • Openly expresses opinion, even when it is different from others: This is part of being open. A leader should have a persona, which projects him being an open, frank and straight forward in terms of expression. It’s an axiom that it’s not what but how you position your view, which makes or breaks a conversation. A leader should know on how to be genuine while engaging.
  • Be crisp and focused in communications: People have short attention spans. As a good communicator, one needs to demonstrate skills of delivering substance in lesser words.

Demonstrating at Managerial Level

  • Gives clear, understandable instructions to others: Depending upon the level of skills of an employee, a leader will give the instructions which will include:
    • What needs to be done?
    • Key steps in the process
    • Why we need to do it?
    • What will be the deliverables?
    • What will be the milestones and checkpoints?
    • What will define the task to be complete?
  • Coaches others in effective communication and listening skills: Leader works on building communication capability of the team across different stakeholders. Following are few of the tricks which can be used:
    • Giving development opportunity to employees to do presentations and communicate with senior stakeholders. Take out the fear psychosis, if any.
    • Online feedback: Comment on employee’s communication style in conference calls or meetings or email. Refer Give the feedback closer to the observation.
    • People learn a lot from leader's style of conversation.
    • Send people for training on communication
  • Helps others to package and present their message effectively: A leader makes his employees understand that
    • When they are communicating, they are doing ethical selling
    • When they are communicating, they have to keep in mind the key messages they want to give and the objective they want to achieve out of that conversation
    • If the audience is not able to understand and listen to your message, its you who are responsible
  • Breaks down communication barriers between others: A leader steps in to resolve any issues, misgivings, lack of awareness etc... to ensure that there is free flow of communication.
  • Initiates difficult or uncomfortable communications with others rather than avoiding them: A leader does not get into the trap of 'flight or fight'. A leader approaches a difficult situation or a dysfunctional relationship and tries to address it openly & dispassionately.
  • Encourages candid and open communication within the team: A leader, by being a role-model and by continuous situational coaching builds a culture of openness. As a leader, if a conflict is escalated to you, you will go into the process on how this conflict was handled. One of the questions, which you will ask is if the team members had an open dialogue on the conflict. If they did not, you will go into the barriers to that open communication for example lack of trust, lack of team-spirit etc.

Demonstrating at Strategic Level

  • Ensures clarity around organization’s strategic intent, and business objectives: The core job of a leader at strategic level is to articulate the strategy, engage people around it and tell them on what is their role to pursue that strategy. An honest, realistic, insightful and optimistic approach forms some traits of that articulation.  The onus is on the leader that employees understand.

Taking it further, employees are just one of many constituencies a leader has to address. Articulating the strategy to the shareholders, market analysts, strategic partners and key customers is equally important. The ability of a leader to tailor his communications as per the context of the audience is needed as different stakeholders have different set of questions.

  • Demonstrates the ability to leverage multiple communication channels: There are two aspects to it. Firstly, being able to use these channels and secondly to create and sponsor these channels. A leader should create an open and communicative environment. This environment involves:
    • Open House sessions
    • Two-way email communication channels
    • Online and offline forums for people to discuss issues.
    • Employee blogs
    • Discussion databases using collaboration tools.
    • Platforms like 'every idea and thought matters....’
  • Demonstrates candor and openness when discussing major organizational issues and choices: Honesty and Trust are the foundation for building leadership credibility. A leader needs to demonstrate his clarity and forth-rightness. His ability to acknowledge the highs as well as lows associated with key initiatives and organizational performance, acts a role model for others to follow.
  • Makes a point to be visible across the organization: Gone are the days, when leaders could survive being a back-room boy. Today a leader as to work on his public relations rigor as well. In today's world, a leader derives his authority from the opinions and perceptions of his stakeholders. Doing a good job is equally important as being seen doing a good job. In our leadership trainings, we always emphasize, the working on your visibility is not a political manipulation or a non-value add task. It's the need of the hour.
  • Facilitates exchange of opinions across organization: A leader acts as a catalyst for people to openly discuss and share their thoughts on critical issues. He works on eliminating 'public agreements and private disagreements'. He creates platform and encourages people to connect on the thorny issues, which executives are avoiding to discuss.