Communications can be one of the greatest strengths or greatest weaknesses of an organization. In part one of the “Why is Communication Important in Leadership” series, we discussed the importance of leaders today needing to seek more of a “conversation” with your employees versus a series of commands. The first element of managing communications was trust, but it does not stand alone. Leaders must also ensure there is an element of communication inclusion within your organization.
As organizations move from the traditional, top-down model of leadership to a team-oriented style of leadership, communications must also be managed differently. This includes how the flow of information to, from, and among employees is handled. Leaders today must seek to have more of a "conversation" with their employees versus a series of commands that trickle down through the organization. That is why the first answer to "why is communication important in leadership" is trust.
As a leader, your most important assets are your people, and gaining their respect is more powerful than any element of control that comes with your position. Building a connection with your employees is what helps separate a leader from a boss. The importance of empathy in leadership is so that in conversation, you are able to connect to your employees and understand them.
Empathy means understanding another person so well that you identify with them, you feel like they do. It should not be confused with sympathy (feeling for someone) but empathy is feeling as someone. It is even more complex than listening; it is engaging. Someone who practices empathy, focuses on the speaker's feelings, not just their actions or circumstances.
Active listening is about truly understanding and accepting the other person's clues and messages. Through the conversation, it is important to understand their situations and feelings. When it comes to conversations in the workplace, it is especially important to achieve active listening. Active listening helps the important messages get across accurately and make the office work more productive.
Research indicates the average person speaks at a rate of 150 words per minute, while the average person can hear at a rate of 1,000 words per minute. Although, we recall only 25-50% of what we hear. One explanation for why we recall so little is what we do with the extra time.