Four Communications Skills That All Executives Need for Effective Leadership

Marissa Levin
Marissa Levin
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ID-10046954I’m currently coaching several CEOs who have asked me to work with their growing executive teams as their businesses scale.

One company in particular currently has 14 employees, and is projected to be at about 50 employees by the end of the year. While this may sound exciting, unmanaged growth can be detrimental and dangerous to a business. The initial start-up phase is like the Wild West. There are very few rules, you have a lot of renegade cowboys running around, and most people “shoot from the hip” and “shoot first, ask questions later.” Exciting? Yes. Sustainable? No. Transitioning to an organization that is “process-centric” rather than “hero-centric” is one of the most important evolutions a company can make to ensure sustainability.

My fast-growing client is building his second business, and has been able to bring over some trusted executives from his first firm to help him grow. However, even in this situation with known team-members, we are already experiencing the negative consequences of poorly-defined roles and weak delegation.

My CEO client is becoming his own bottleneck to growth.

There are several aspects I am addressing in my coaching work with this company including strategic planning, job descriptions, roles definitions, process implementations, delegation, time management, task prioritization, and advisory board building. One of the most important aspects is executive communication.

My client will be depending on his executive team to be his eyes, ears, brain…. and VOICE. Leadership communication does not come naturally for most people. The ability to communicate constructively in the workplace at all levels is essential. Without healthy and productive communication, a company can stumble, or even crumble.

A few weeks ago, I shared an interview I conducted with my close friend and communications expert Steven Gaffney on how leaders can communicate effectively through change. Steven is the author of numerous books and publications including: “Just Be Honest,” “Honesty Works!” “Honesty Sells,” “Guide to Increasing Communication Flow Up, Down, and Across Your Organization,” “21 Rules for Delivering Difficult Messages,” and his newest book, “Be A Change Champion: Mastering Momentum.”

For this column, I consulted Steven to learn how emerging leaders can prepare themselves and demonstrate proficiency for executive leadership positions.

When leaders are evaluating employees for promotions to move them into leadership positions, what communications skills should they be looking for? What communications skills are needed for effective leadership?

Potential leaders should demonstrate these four critical skills:

  1. The ability to proactively share difficult messages and feedback
  2. The ability to proactively resolve small conflicts before they become major conflicts
  3. The ability to create a safe environment so people will want to share information and 3 I’s and an A: Information, Issues, Ideas, and Appreciations
  4. Their ability to appreciate their employees (After all, I have never heard of an employee leaving because they were appreciated too much, but people DO leave because they aren’t appreciated enough)

What general guidelines do you have for all professionals today who are trying to move up into a leadership position?

Whether moving up into a leadership role or already being in a leadership role, the general guideline I have is to produce results legally and ethically and to live by the following four nonnegotiable items:

  1. Make and keep commitments without needing to have people check up on you
  2. Be proactively honest, don’t wait until someone asks you. Proactively share problems, challenges, ideas, opportunities, etc.
  3. Be direct- if you have an issue with someone go directly to that person as opposed to talking around that person or using an ambassador
  4. Appreciate the people around you. “Teams win championships, individuals go home.” An interesting note, even in an individual sport like golf, tennis, or swimming all of those people who win required a team of people. Including coaches and supporters that enable them to be what they are and whom they have become. So never forget that what got you here and what is going to get you where you want to go, will be the people around you. So just remember to constantly appreciate.

In addition, remember that effective delegation requires clear and transparent communication from all parties. Delegation to other leaders is a MUST for any leader looking to scale their business. Please refer back to my previous column on The Four Steps to Effective Delegation to ensure you are setting up your leadership team for success.

Keep growing!


Do your top employees need help getting to the next level in your organization? Do you need help preparing your executive team for more responsibility? Email me for help.


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About Successful Culture
We work with business owners, CEOs, and leadership teams that want to achieve their greatest personal & organizational potential. Through coaching, strategic consulting, retreat facilitation, and workshops, we equip leaders & emerging leaders with the mindset, tools, strategies, and processes they need to excel.

Ready to move forward? Email us today at [email protected].

Connect with me on Instragram, Facebook, and Twitter. Engage with me during my morning Periscope sessions as well (@marissalevin).

Please check out my Inc. Magazine columns on my Author Page too.
– In my latest Inc, article, I share The Essential Guide to Avoiding Workplace Text, Email, & Social Media Disasters.
– Learn about the 9 Leadership Behaviors that Lose Employee Trust & Respect here.

~Marissa Levin
CEO, Successful Culture
“Taking Leaders from Triage to Transformation.”

Photo credit Ambro via Free Digital Photos

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