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5 Essential Communication Skills For Leaders and Managers in 2023

Updated: Sep 12, 2023


colleagues communicating in a meeting

6 out of 10 employees are psychologically disengaged from their work and lack supportive relationships with their boss, colleagues, and organization as a whole, according to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report.


Most of this can be attributed to lack of communication skills from leaders and managers, who set the tone, direction, and ultimately the engagement, of the organization as a whole.


With globally recognized trends such as "The Great Resignation," and "Quiet-Quitting," thrusting employers into a state of alarm, mastering communication skills should be a high priority for any leader or manager of a team.


Below are five communication skills you need to master:


Adapting communication to different organizational levels


One size does not fit all. Leaders and middle to senior managers must master the art of communicating in the most effective way for each audience type, adapting terminology to their own employees, to clients, business partners, other senior managers, project sponsors, and the executive team.


Beyond business terminology, this also means viewing things from each audience's perspective. Ask yourself, what is important for this particular stakeholder type to know right now? What is the most pertinent information that needs to be relayed?


For example, when talking to the head of marketing, your focus will be on customer engagement metrics or input on the monthly newsletter. When liaising with the finance team, their primary concern is financial targets, month-end balance, and the quarterly forecast. They're not concerned with the story behind the numbers, or an your plans for business development. So adapt your conversation angle accordingly.


Giving timely feedback and information as a manager


Whenever I coach my clients, one of the pain-points they tell me that has strongly influenced their decisions to leave their employers, is that their managers fail to deliver feedback on time. Only to be met with disciplinary action when they are told in the annual performance review that they have been failing in their role, which creates confusion, distrust, and dissatisfaction.


When relaying feedback, the best time is to do it as soon as possible. Don't wait too long or it may be too late, or this will establish a habit of under-performance or substandard behavior that is difficult to break.


This is especially true with regards to market or business conditions and changes that directly affect your team's employment. Even if you are not permitted to relay details of impending layoffs, for example, you can and should notify your team that there are possible upcoming changes that could affect their employment status, so they have reasonable time to make preparations.


Providing constructive feedback as a leader


While providing timely feedback is important, the way in which feedback is delivered is just as crucial for leaders and managers to master.


Using a coaching approach when conducting performance reviews, 1:1 conversations, and even in team meetings, in addition to utilising the SBI feedback model (Situation, Behavior, Impact) will help you facilitate meaningful conversations and relay feedback in a constructive way that actually improves performance instead of discouraging and demotivating your employees.


Senior leadership presentation skills


If you are a middle or senior manager, you need to be comfortable presenting to the senior leadership team, or business partners at the executive level. This means that, just like I mentioned earlier, you adapt your presentation to your audience's specific needs from their angle, sharing what they need to know instead of boring them with extra, irrelevant details.


We've all attended those infamously yawn-worthy meetings which consisted of a slide-deck populated with data, graphics, and large portions of text all grouped together, while the presenter is emotionlessly reading through each sentence line by line.


Don't be that presenter.


Engage your team and senior leaders by putting thought into designing a slide deck that is memorable, through telling stories to explain the data, changing vocal variety and intonation, and focusing on the high-level overview as opposed to day-to-day details.


One of the senior directors who I coached to develop her leadership skills, applied this approach to her business training presentation, which was to be delivered to a room full of stakeholders including the president.


After applying these techniques and others that I taught her, she received praise and much positive feedback from the senior leadership team and her own manager, for her engaging presentation skills.


Active listening as a team manager


Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention active listening in this list as a requisite for communication success. In my recent Forbes article, I listed seven ways to incorporate active listening into your communication toolbox, including:


  • Being attentive and fully present

  • Paying attention to non-verbal cues

  • Asking open-ended probing questions

  • Listening to understand than to respond

Active listening displays empathy and shows your team that you sincerely care about them, not just their work output. You can read the full article here for tips on how to improve your active listening skills.


After all, communication is more than the words we say. As leaders and managers, we must be careful to say the right thing at the right time, tailor our communication style to different audiences, show empathy, and develop the art of engaging and meaningful communication that rallies our teams into action towards a common business vision.


If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you’d also love my weekly newsletter I release every Wednesday for new and aspiring managers.



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As a corporate coach, I have had the privilege of mentoring and coaching numerous managers throughout my career. From recruitment to tech, non-profits to education, and even hospitality. I have seen first-hand the transformative power of effective leadership. Seven of my own employees were promoted and progressed to other roles internally as a result of my coaching leadership approach.


Imagine the incredible possibilities that await your organization when you fully leverage your existing talent. If you're ready to witness transformational results and take your business to new heights, let's join forces.


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