Effective Communication Strategies for Leaders

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While the ability to effectively communicate is critical for anyone who wishes to succeed in business, it is especially important for leaders.

Responsible for helping set the tone of a company’s culture, leaders are often tasked with not only motivating employees, but external stakeholders, toward achieving a common goal. 

Take, for example, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. Different in their respective approaches to challenges, both leaders excelled at communication.

So what does history tell us about effective communication strategies for leaders? Effective communication strategies are based on 3 key principles.


Transparency is critically important in the workplace, and it is an important strategy when it comes to leadership communication. 

From providing clear expectations regarding quality of work to setting expectations for how to earn a raise, leaders are largely responsible for creating and reinforcing a company’s values and vision.

Transparent communications are increasingly important when you factor in the dynamics of a virtual workplace, as remote employees need comprehensive support.

Transparency is also effective in external communications, as leaders are often charged with speaking publicly about their brands. Such communications often touch on corporate social responsibilities, so it is important leaders are clear on where their companies stand.

Fostering transparent communication is one tangible way leaders can create and maintain a culture of success.

Active Listening

Active listening is another communication strategy for leaders. 

According to Mind Tools, active listening requires an active effort to not just hear what someone is saying, but understand the complete message.

For leaders, active listening is an essential strategy, because it helps to create a culture of deep learning and respect. A workforce that feels heard is one that feels empowered.

Active listening can lead to several important benefits for an organization, some of which include:

  • Improved employee morale
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Effective resolution of interpersonal conflict
  • New ideas

Examples of how active listening might look to an employee could include making eye contact, occasional nod or smile, and overall open body posture.

For leaders, part of the job is to secure information, perspective, and understanding from their employees, which underscores the importance of active listening as a communication strategy.

Open Questions

A leader who is looking for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers is much more likely to receive them with simple, fact-seeking questions. On the other hand, open questions in which a leader solicits input with words like ‘what,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ elicit longer responses.

This way of asking open questions is often referred to as a funnel strategy

As suggested by the name itself, this communication strategy may be visually conceptualized as a funnel, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. 

The idea here is to ask broad, very general questions at the beginning of an inquiry before narrowing the focus of your questions with greater specificity. 

The goal is to better understand the wants, hopes and needs of others, which is essential for business leaders in any industry.

Final Considerations

While effective communication strategies seem, at first, more like art, they are unquestionably grounded in science and human behavior.

The extent to which leaders can develop and hone their communication skills and strategies will dictate to what degree they are able to persuade others to action.

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