12 Communication Habits to Be a Better Boss
Nobody intends to be a bad boss. Managers aspire to earn the respect of their team, engage their people in the mission, and win their loyalty for the long term. For the best bosses, those things happen. Other managers, however, struggle with the relationship-side of their responsibilities.
So What’s The Big Challenge?
Ask their team members to identify problem areas and you’ll find that most of the glitches in getting things done center around communication:
Do These Communication Complaints Sound Familiar?
Overheard all too-often….
- “My boss thinks we’re mind-readers!”
- “It’s his way or the highway. It’s always, ‘This is what we’re going to do. Anybody have a problem with that?’ Who’s going to object when his mind is already made up?”
- “She’s got her favorites, and we all know who they are. Special treatment for special people. Too bad if you’re not one of the special people.”
- “The deal is, you never get feedback around here. One day, somebody’s here. The next day, they’re gone. I guess that’s feedback, all right.”
- “My boss never gives a straight answer to anything! And we’re always the last department to know what’s going on.”
- “You can send an email and it may be days before you get a response! The whole situation has been overcome by events.”
If any of these complaints sound legitimate in your department—or if you just want to improve an already great relationship with your team—keep these practices in mind:
12 Communication Habits to Make You a Better Boss or Team Leader
- Make sure your team knows the results they’re expected to deliver.
- Avoid micromanaging. Develop trust in your people, tell them the overall goal, and give them the freedom to develop the process.
- Guide discussions with strategic, open-ended questions rather than know-it-all statements. Ask people to separate fact from opinion. Leave plenty of silence for collaboration, disagreement, or consensus.
- Mediate conflict before it cripples your team. Unresolved conflict can divert focus, drain emotional energy, and decrease productivity.
- Respond promptly to questions or requests.
- Become a coach, not a critic. Offer insight, mentoring, feedback, resources, encouragement, and accountability.
- Reward great performance in ways that individuals want to be recognized: public or private praise, time off, money, gifts, attention, learning opportunities, increased responsibility.
- Connect on a human level. Be approachable, transparent, and genuine in day-to-day interactions.
- Make the meetings you lead matter. Plug power into your meeting agendas by using laser-focused questions that lead to solid analysis, clear decisions, and specific follow-up actions.
- Give adequate notice when scheduling or cancelling a meeting. Last-minute meetings or cancellations communicate that no one’s time or activities count but your own.
- Answer questions directly. Don’t play dodge ball with vague general answers that confuse and do not amuse.
- Take responsibility for mistakes or poor decisions. Set the example for accountability.
No matter your official position and title, to deliver results, you need personal influence. And that influence comes from trust, competence, and likeability—intentionally earned through effective communication.
Develop more leadership habits with Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire and Get Things Done. Download an excerpt by clicking here or on the image below.
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