Communicating as a Leader

Communication Skills

Prof.M.S.Rao asked:


By M.Srinivasa Rao

The ability or the skill to transfer one’s thoughts, ideas and information from the sender to the receiver with the latter being understood the same effectively and efficiently is known as communication skills. It is one of the greatest skills of the soft skills and its importance is growing rapidly due to the rising complexities as a result of technological inventions.

In corporate terminology, communication is the process of exchange of information from the sender to the receiver and vice versa. There are different types of communication such as downward communication, upward communication, horizontal communication, crosswise communication, verbal communication; written communication etc., In downward communication, the flow of information is from the people at the superior level to the people at the subordinate level. On the other hand, in upward communication, the flow of information is from the subordinate level to the superior level. In horizontal information, the flow of information is from the people of same level to that of their counterparts at the same level. In crosswise communication, the flow of information is from one level to any other level which is either diagonal or crosswise without any reporting relationship. In verbal communication, the flow of communication, which is transferred orally to any level, and it is the most effective one as one can communicate effectively with one’s body language so as to have profound impact on the receiver. Whenever, there is a need to record the information in black and white, and then people go for written communication in which the communication is through mass mailing in written form.

Any communication has seven elements, apart from the noise, which is known as the barrier in communication and also can be treated as the eight element of communication. The first element being the thought or an idea, the second is encoding the same, third is the transmission of the message or the channel, fourth being the reception of the message and the decoding the same is the fifth element, understanding of the decoded idea or thought is the sixth element and the last and final element i.e. seventh element is the feedback of the receiver to the sender as a sign of confirmation of the communication. Any effective communication must possess the seven elements and the communication is complete with the combination of these seven elements. In case, if there is any gap between the sender and receiver or vice versa then there is communication gap or miscommunication or which is technically called as noise. The so called eighth element is the culprit of communication and all efforts must be made to eliminate it.

Every leader or manager must have great command over communication skills as communication takes major portion of time in any organization. It is aptly said, ‘Communication is the life blood of an organization’. It is through communication all the people are connected in the organization and all the activities are coordinated to achieve their goals and objectives.

The media of communication is divided into verbal communication and non-verbal communication. Both the oral and written communication falls in the fold of verbal communication. The non-verbal communication is divided into body language and sign language and the latter is further divided into visual signs and audio signs. As it is quite obvious, oral communication is the exchange of ideas, thoughts and information in oral form and if it is in written mode, it is known as written communication. A person must be strong at both oral and written forms. When an individual work in the capacity of a manager he will be required to give presentations frequently and he must be in a position to deliver the same effectively. Similarly, he may be asked to write reports on various projects or tasks and possession of written communication is sine quo non.

It is said that 93 per cent of our communication belongs to body language and the systematic study of body language is known as kinesics. It shows the impact of our body language. It is the combination of facial expressions, eye movements, gestures, posture, tone control and our over all physical features. The oral language is always supported by body language and there has to be consistency in both oral and body language, otherwise, it will give rise to credibility crisis. For instance, when an autocratic manager of an industry talks about the application of participative type of management hereafter by thumping his desk physically with force is an indication of inconsistency in his body language with that of his oral language. In a nutshell, our body language conveys our true intentions unconsciously although we may consciously speak orally different. Body movements and gestures contain 55 per cent, voice tone and inflection contains 38 per cent and the combination of the both is 93 per cent, which conveys our body language. While the rest 7 per cent belongs to verbal communication. The combination all the percentages becomes 100 per cent which becomes the media of communication.

Characteristics of an effective communicator:

He must be very clear in his mind what he wants to convey so as to reach the audience effectively.

The language must be simple, straight and should hit the bull’s eye. It is the quality not the quantity of the message that counts.

He must demonstrate his confidence by way of his body language and must radiate energy and enthusiasm so as to create positive impact in the minds of the receivers.

He must assess the maturity level of the audience and must communicate accordingly.

He must not use loaded language with phrases or complicated terminology or jargon to avoid confusion.

Must organize his mind properly with thorough preparation and enough home work to make it reachable and everlasting.

All out sincere efforts are to be made to prevent barriers in communication.

Must be total consistency in his verbal and body language

Should adjust his tone level as per the message of his speech, with pauses and emphasis whereever it is essential.

Must have ability to raise the curiosity level of the audience.

All efforts must be made to enhance the quality of communication from time to time with innovative methods and approaches. For instance, Swami Vivekananda referred the audience at the Chicago conference as the brothers and sisters of the world, which is still memorable even today. He was a great communicator and speaker.

When Stephen had beaten Abraham Lincoln. A. Douglas in the race for the US Senate, he admonished his followers,” not to give up after one or one hundred defeats”. He was also a great communicator and motivator.

Communication skill is one of the top ten soft skills without which soft skills are irrelevant. Those who are qualified in their academics and try for placement, the interviewing officer lays more emphasis on this ability. A weak communicator creates problems for himself and for others. The interviewing officer can not afford to take a risk by accommodating a poor communicator. Good communication is a feature of effective personality development. Those who want to succeed in their careers; it is imperative to possess good communication skills.


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