Exceptional Communication Traits of Great Leaders

May 11, 2015 in HR Best Practices


Great leaders have exceptional communication traits. In our April 27th blog, we reviewed the first seven exceptional communication traits great leaders strive to practice — be personable, gain trust, tell it like it is, avoid ambiguity, be open-minded.

In part two of this series, we outline traits eight through thirteen. Great leaders also strive to:

  1. Empathize: Staying calm when things go wrong doesn’t mean ignoring the impact that circumstances may have on others. Exceptional leaders are attuned to how their people feel and respond accordingly. They weave their people’s emotions, concerns, and perspective into their words. They communicate from the heart and are willing to acknowledge vulnerability rather than protecting their egos at all costs.
  2. Set the standard: From the way they dress to the language they use, and how they greet and treat others; in every aspect of their behavior, leaders know they are setting the standard for everyone on their team and across the organization. Leaders know that behavior and presence continue to communicate even when voices are silent, and they make sure to set an example of excellence.
  3. Practice perception: Whether we call it a heightened sense of awareness, intuition, emotional intelligence, or just great radar, the best leaders are adept at reading between the lines and hearing what’s going on behind the words. When this skill is well-honed, it can make leaders seem prescient as they anticipate and respond to challenges before they become apparent to others.
  4. Be a thought leader: People expect leaders to be a source of knowledge and information and to help them grow. Bringing new information to their teams and challenging them with thought-provoking questions helps leaders foster the conceptual thinking and creativity they need to stay ahead of the curve.
  5. Appreciate: It may seem old-fashioned, but making a habit of saying “please” and “thank you,” and publicly recognizing the input of team members, does wonders for a leader’s credibility and reinforces trust. Exceptional leaders seize every opportunity to appreciate.
  6. Be congruent: Leaders are always being watched by their followers, by competitors, and by the broader marketplace. When their words and actions don’t match, disillusionment soon follows. Great leaders make principle-based decisions and consciously embody their values in everything they do.

When people work with someone who exemplifies these practices every day, they instinctively recognize a strong leader and they step up and follow. The good news for aspiring leaders? These 13 behaviors are available for anyone to embrace, apply, embody, and practice.