The ability to effectively communicate is a skill that is required in all types of relationships, whether family, work, or community. For a leader or manager, clearly and effectively communicating is not just essential but required. I’m not alone in this belief. According to a 2020 study in project.co, 96% of people think the businesses they deal with could improve when it comes to communication and project management. Another stat revealed that 92% of people have had to repeat a piece of information to two or more people within an organization.
Despite the importance of leaders and managers possessing strong communication skills, organizations struggle to communicate effectively. According to HR Technologies, 57% of employees report that they are not being given clear directions, and 69% of managers are not comfortable communicating with the employees in general.
As a result of stats like these, there is no shortage of books, research, and blog articles dedicated to helping to improve your leader communication skills. For this reason, I’ve decided to focus this month’s reading list on my top selections to improve your leader communication skills. As with previous books of the month list, the compilation is not all-inclusive but should provide helpful advice for new leaders and managers and those of us with a couple of years under our belts. This month’s list includes:
- How To Talk To Absolutely Anyone: Confident Communication for Work, Life, and Relationships by Mark Rhodes
- Message Received: 7 Steps to Break Down Communication Barriers at Work by Mary Donohue
- 101 Tips for Improving Your Business Communication by Edward Barr
- Think on Your Feet: Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Impromptu Communication Skills on the Job by Jen Oleniczak Brown
- Conversation Transformation: Recognize and Overcome the 6 Most Destructive Communication Patterns
Must-reads for increasing your leader communication skills:
How To Talk To Absolutely Anyone: Confident Communication for Work, Life, and Relationships by Mark Rhodes
If you are a leader looking for a helpful guide to communicating in any setting, including work, home, and your community, this is the book for you. Mark Rhodes includes a 30-day Zero to Hero Personal Confidence Course in his second edition of the book. The goal of the course is to help leaders build their skills and increase their chances of getting what they want out of any conversation.
An attractive attribute is that the author focuses more on individuals who may be awkward or struggling to come out of their shells. This attribute makes this an ideal read for the introverted leader or the new leader initially coming into their own.
Dr. Mary Donohue’s book Message Received is the new kid on the block compared to some leadership and communication classics like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. However, her data-driven tips on overcoming digital communication barriers are a must-read for any leader who plans to succeed in the digital age, which I would assume would be all current leaders.
Dr. Donahue explores the connection between workplace stress and digital communication barriers. Specifically, she goes into the root cause of digital miscommunication and addresses ways to overcome this problem. She ascertains that we only understand 20% of the digital communications we receive. To help clear up the other 80% and to help overcome workplace stress, Dr. Donohue provides a seven-step process based on data collected since 2013. Leaders struggling to communicate in the post-pandemic workplace will want to pick this book up.
An excellent attribute of the book is that you can read it end to end or use it as a reference, specifically focusing on the areas you need assistance with at the time. The book is an easy read the stories that Mr. Barr provides help drive home the tips he gives. This pick is another good book for new and experienced leaders alike and one you should keep by your desk.
Think on Your Feet: Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Impromptu Communication Skills on the Job by Jen Oleniczak Brown
If leaders had an endless amount of time to prepare and respond to questions, most of our communications would be polished, smooth, and insightful. Unfortunately, we seldom have that luxury. I don’t how many times someone has put me on the spot to provide input or answer a question. Whether it’s your boss asking you an off-the-wall question in the middle of your presentation or a team member catching you flat-footed during the weekly meeting, we can avoid impromptu communications.
Luckily, author Jen Oleniczak Brown provides some helpful tips for the everyday leader in the impromptu communications arena. A bonus for picking up this book is that Jen provides improv activities to assist in practicing their improv leader communication skills. No more thinking about what you should have said after the fact.
Conversation Transformation: Recognize and Overcome the 6 Most Destructive Communication PatternsBen Benjamin, Amy Yeager & Anita Simon
Leaders understand that communication goes beyond what you say. According to famous researcher Albert Mehrabian, as I mentioned in a recent blog article, 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is spoken.
Authors Ben Benjamin, Amy Yeager, and Anita Simon go into more detail on the topic of destructive communications. They are focusing on six of the most destructive communications patterns. Not only does the author show you how to recognize these patterns and potential communication breakdowns, but they also provide practical solutions to helping you repair and adjust your conversation patterns.
In addition, the book helps leaders manage the six most common conversation killers. The authors utilize a three-step process that switches negative habits out for more and constructive responses. The book is ideal for aspiring and experienced leaders and can be used in your professional and personal lives.
As I mentioned in the introduction, my list of must-reads for new leaders is by no means exhaustive. However, this is list covers a few different topics that will help new leaders improve their leader communication skills and serve as a launching pad for further reading and professional development. I hope the article and suggestions are helpful to both new and experienced leaders alike. If you have any suggestions or recommendations for this list, please feel free to let me know through your feedback below. Also, If you are a new leader and interested in additional reading suggestions, check out my 5 Must-Read Books for New Leaders.