Good Key Concepts Of Effective Leadership Term Paper Example

Type of paper: Term Paper

Topic: Leadership, Communication, Leader, Effective, People, Ethics, Listening, Empathy

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/01/04

Interpersonal Communication Skills of Effective Leaders

Interpersonal Communication Skills of Effective Leaders
According to Lussier and Achua (2015), leadership is a term that has been defined in so many ways that there is no universal approach to this concept. However, one can understand leadership through some of the attributes that emerge from various definitions. For example, effective leaders are those who develop and inspire a vision for their followers. They also motivate followers to live the ideals of that vision. Moreover, effective leaders walk with their followers towards the vision and arrive together. Finally, leaders build teams for easier management as they seek to attain a vision. From this perspective, it is evident that a leader must have a vision and followers as well as the ability to convince the latter that the vision is worth pursuing (Vessey, 2010). In essence leaders must learn to communicate with their followers by cultivating effective interpersonal communication skills.

Empathy is one of the most desirable qualities of an effective leader. Simply put, empathy means putting oneself in the shoes or situation of another and thinking and acting as they would in a given situation (Hurn & Tomalin, 2013). It is important to understand that unlike managers who approach tasks from functional point of view, leaders have followers with whom they must create interpersonal linkages. When dealing with followers, an effective leader often disengages from the official responsibility and bonds with individual followers in order to know them at personal levels. This way, the leader wins the trust of followers and can therefore influence them to adopt and live a dream. Leaders who lack empathy end up losing their followers because between the two parties there is no mutual trust.
Another important attribute of an effective leader is listening (Goldsworthy, 2010). This aspect is closely connected to empathy. At the heart of listening is the fundamental idea that communication is transactional. The effective leader understands that in the exchange of information, emotions and messages, the follower is not a passive participant, even when the latter does not reply in oral from. Real leaders not only send messages to followers; they also listen to what followers have to say. Feedback is an essential element of communication and it can come in both verbal and non-verbal means. Listening is, therefore, more than opening the years and hearing what the other persons says. It is watching their verbal cues, gestures and tone of voice. It is keeping quiet and observing them as they respond. Listening is only complete when the leaders implements the needs of the follower based on the feedback received during the time the leader is listening.
Manuel and Rabindra (2007) assert that an effective leader also exercises ethics during interpersonal communication. Once followers gain the trust of a leader in an interpersonal relationship, they open up about their lives and feelings. A leader must, therefore, remember to keep the secrets of followers. Everything discussed between a leader and a follower remains between them unless otherwise agreed. Empathizing with followers creates trust but this trust can be broken by a leader who cannot keep his or her mouth shut. Ethics in interpersonal communication also demands that the leader values the people he or she is leading and treats them as people with feelings and thoughts. A leader who exercises ethics does not also share unnecessary personal information of a person who has come to them with confidential issues. Listening and not interrupting followers with personal issues, is crucial for a leader.
In addition, effective leaders exercise courtesy when communicating with followers at a personal level (Lintz, 2011). Courtesy is related to empathy in that the leader must assume the position of the follower in the communication process. However, courtesy goes a further because it emphasizes on the need for the leader to speak language that is respectful and considerate. All human beings want to be treated with dignity irrespective of the age and position of the leader. When followers approach the leader with their concerns and questions, the latter must listen and offer truthful and accurate answers even if the he or she feels that the questioner is being a bother or is less intelligent. Every leader will encounter followers of varying personalities and characters, some of whom may not behave the way the leader desires. Leaders who control their emotions while dealing with followers are likely to influence the latter towards a certain course of action more effectively.
Beebe (2011) opines that adequate preparation, in order to get the appropriate message to communicate, is the other quality of an effective leader in interpersonal communication. It is crucial for every leader to exercise forethought before sending out any message to a follower. The leader must think through the message and decide whether it is appropriate in terms of the content, timing and audience. Messages can be on new issues or responses to the concerns of followers. Here empathy, courtesy, ethics and listening will come into play. The leader must begin from the known to the unknown by gauging what followers already know and deciding how much information to transmit to them through particular means of communication. Only after deciding that the message is appropriate and the timing is apt for the receivers should the leader reach out to followers. Different situations, people and times demand respective communication approaches.

Personal Reflection on Leadership Qualities

At the onset of this reflection, I would like to state that I am a perfectionist and also a shy extrovert. These character traits have shaped my experiences in leadership and interpersonal communication. Empathy has not been one of my best attributes (Junarso, 2009). I often fail to understand why people cannot see issues and life from my point of view. When I was first elected to head a writing club, I had a real problem understanding the different viewpoints of my colleagues. Creative writing does not restrict people to specific ideas and writers are at liberty to explore different angles based on personal experience and knowledge. At the beginning I suggested that we create a magazine with articles from every member. One particular colleague objected, saying that members should not be forced to write articles. While the rest understood this individual, I asked why he wanted to be in a writing club if he was not a writer in the first place. Later, having thought through issues and understood he was just a beginner who aspired to be a writer, I realized I should not have forced him to write if he did not feel confident.
I am a poor listener, or at least I was before I learned about effective interpersonal communication in leadership (Lopez, 2010). My perfectionism and egocentric nature make me to think about myself most of the time. Apart from the fact that I find it hard to empathize with people, I sometimes don’t listen. Occasionally, when a person is making a contribution in our writing club, I take one angle of the story and get lost in my thoughts. This has cost me many friends of the opposite sex, especially after they realize that I am not listening to them. I often attribute this to the fact that I am shy and I find it difficult to look people in the eye as they speak. I occasionally have to wake myself up, as it were, after gradually slipping into a reverie when another person is speaking. Recently, I started scribbling notes whenever another person is speaking and this has helped me to concentrate and then comment with understanding.
On ethics and interpersonal communication, I am better off. In the course of my duties as the leader of the writing club, I have come to know a lot of personal details about my friends. I have held one-on-one meetings with my colleagues, some of who want to know how they could turn unfortunate personal events into pieces of literature. I am privy to numerous secrets that I still keep to myself. I treat them as personal issues that were told to me in confidence and know that I personally would not be happy to have my dirty linen washed in public. Thanks to my secretiveness and ethical approach, I still have my circle of friends intact (Price, 2004).
Concerning courtesy, I admit that I at times lose my cool and commit mistakes that I regret later. As I mentioned earlier, I am a perfectionist and cannot understand why it is difficult for people to comprehend some issues. During one class presentation, a classmate, whom I had quarreled with a week earlier, asked me two questions and I got irritated. I felt exasperated when he asked the same question twice but from different angles. Since my past experience and relationship with this persons were far from ideal, I quickly interpreted it to mean that he was simply trying to belittle me before the rest of the class. I made a sarcastic remark that was meant to hurt him and the other students laughed at him. However, when I reflected about the incident, I recognized I should have been courteous with my answer (Bojeun, 2010).
Lastly, from the classroom presentation incident, I realized that I did not prepare adequately and appropriately (Davis, 2008). My challenger had noted that I did not have a good grip of the issue I was discussing. Since I was presenting on behalf of my group, I needed to have internalized the different contributions of each member. Although I had two days to synthesize the materials and seek relevant clarifications, I chose the know-it-all attitude instead of preparing adequately. After all, I was the group leader. The anomalies that had been detected and exposed by my nemesis were glaring. Although at first I understood my challenger from our pervious encounter, I knew I had not done a thorough job in preparation and presentation. My discourteous response was actually a form of defense mechanism. It was the typical reaction of a person who was not willing to admit his mistakes, perhaps due to pride. Today, I know that I need to prepare adequately especially by understanding what my audience expects. In this case, the people I was addressing were actually my classmates who understood the contents of the units we were studying and were vastly knowledgeable on many fronts. Moreover, such presentations are meant to be forums for interaction where all participants learn through sharing of information and improving others’ presentations.


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