When it comes to any type of business, effective communication is absolutely vital for success. Why? Communication creates clarity, productivity, fosters teamwork, and inspires. Bad communication, on the other hand, results in the exact opposite.
It’s the number one quality that sets exceptional leaders apart from mediocre ones.
Here’s a look at eight ways in which exceptional leaders communicate. Start using these habits (or find a boss who has these traits), and you’ll see your success soar:
1. They Listen More Than They Speak
Great bosses learn early on that there is a very good reason why humans were given two ears and only one mouth. Not only do people want to know that you are listening, they are craving to actually be heard. In fact, being a good listener is proven to be one of the most important traits of successful leaders.
That’s why exceptional bosses constantly practice active listening—they make a sincere effort to understand what their employees are saying, and they actively show they’re paying attention.
2. They’re Transparent
Exceptional and memorable bosses are who they are all of the time—not just during meetings or formal reviews.
Just look at the vetted job environment at Google, where leaders automatically “default to open,” and their employees are some of the happiest in the world as a result.
They don’t cover up their mistakes, make false promises, or act secretive. Instead, they share information and knowledge generously. Being open with your employees will ensure they feel valued, which can go a long way towards building an amazing team environment.
3. They Single You Out (in a Good Way)
Have you ever left a presentation or a speech and felt like the speaker was speaking to you directly? This is a great skill that the best bosses out there have mastered. It’s obvious that you won’t have time to schedule a one-on-one with the whole company, but having touchpoints (even if they are casual) along the way can make all of the difference.
4. They Make Time for Praise
Harvard research has found that the amount of praise given to a team is directly proportional to their amount of success. Even low-performing teams saw radical improvement through nuggets of encouragement.
Even when you’re pressed for time, know that a little bit of praise goes a long, long way. It not only makes hard-working employees feel appreciated, but it gives them direction for continuing on the path to greatness.
5. They’re Constructive
That’s not to say that exceptional leaders are giving out praise 100% of the time. When push comes to shove, they do give negative feedback, but in a way that’s more effective than most.
Instead of immediately lashing out with anger, they give feedback in a calm manner, and only if it’s something actionable. The next time you give feedback as a leader, pause and reflect if there’s actually a way to improve—otherwise, you’re just blowing hot air.
6. They Welcome (and Encourage) Feedback
Great leaders aren’t afraid to admit they’re wrong, especially when they’re at the top of the totem pole. They don’t only effectively communicate feedback, they effectively take it too.
I’ve found that the best ideas often come from the greenest employees, because they’re fresh and provide new insights that veteran eyes wouldn’t notice. You’ll find this innovation too if you’re open to ideas (even negative ones) from everyone.
7. They Leave Their Door Open
If you want to lead a team effectively it starts with an open door policy.
You need to create an environment that allows everyone on the team to feel comfortable to discuss issues in the workplace. Whether it be a mistake, an innovative idea or a career decision, the trust and the sentiment that they are not interrupting needs to exist throughout the organization.
If it doesn’t exist organization wide, start with your team—you never know the power of people and you may be surprised how quickly this culture can spread.
8. They Explain Why
“Passion is energy,” says Oprah Winfrey. “Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
Great leaders know that great employees are driven by more than a paycheck, and are able to connect the day-to-day drudgery of work to people’s burning passions.
When they’re asking their team to do something, or trying to boost the mood of a co-worker during a tough task, they rely on the “why,” and you should too.
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Photo of person talking courtesy of Tempura/Getty Images.