Why Leaders Must Be Great Communicators
Featuring: Larry Krutchik, Executive Vice President of H+K Strategies
March 23, 2023
Through effective communication, leaders hold the ability to inspire and empower those around them. According to Larry Krutchik, Executive Vice President of H+K Strategies, this means we must be extremely thoughtful about what and how we communicate. With over 25 years of experience working in public affairs and the PR industry, Krutchik has mastered the components of a successful conversation.
Lucky for us, we were able to sit down with Krutchik to learn the factors of great communication. Through Krutchik’s help, every individual can improve their key relationships, and even become a stronger leader in the workplace.
The Components of A Great Communicator
In simple terms, a great communicator is a master of listening, writing, and speaking. But what does Krutchik think holds the most significance? Although effective writing and speaking can be the most difficult skills to obtain, in Krutchik’s mind, listening is a game-changer. “There’s a difference in listening to understand, and listening to respond,” explains Krutchik. It may sound simple, but critical listening is not easy to accomplish – and it is a competency that requires ongoing practice and commitment.
To actively work on your listening skills, Krutchik recommends:
By being fully present, you can uncover what’s really going underneath the surface. When you are able to stay in the moment and focus on the conservation at hand, you will be able to dissect the contexts of body language, expressions, and tone of voice.
Repeating What You’ve Heard
Messages and purposes of conversations can easily be lost in translation. In order to achieve complete understanding, always repeat back what you’ve heard to the communicator. This will ensure everyone is on the same page.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
How you frame a question will make a huge difference in the answers you receive. To get to the core of a matter, refrain from asking “Yes” or “No” questions. Stick with the open-ended, “what” and “why” questions to elicit more detailed responses.
Common Mistakes of Communication
Miscommunication is far too common in the workplace and beyond, but how can you negate these communication errors? According to Krutchik, you should:
Get The Whole Story
While they’re easily lost in translation, small details can completely redefine what’s being asked of you. Before starting any project or fulfilling any task, make sure you understand the complete context. Don’t make assumptions – if you ever have any doubts about the task at hand, slow down and get clarification.
Understand Your Audience
Messages will be interpreted differently depending on the audience. To prevent miscommunication, or even awkward conversations, understand your audience’s needs and views before starting communication.
Say What’s On Your Mind
“As a leader, you must have the ability to disagree, without being disagreeable,” says Krutchik. In order to solve tricky problems, we need to be truthful about any doubts or concerns we have. This ensures our voices are heard, and that the best possible solution is considered.
Navigating Difficult Conversations
Whether it be moving to a new company or being let go, we all have been the sender or receiver of a difficult conversation. This kind of communication is never easy, but Krutchik has three tips to help tough conversations run more smoothly:
Consider the Setting
Although we operate out of multiple means of communication, most people appreciate the courtesy of face-to-face interaction. Beyond face-to-face, remember the importance of the day of the week, and the time you’re initiating the conversation.
Remember Your Impact On Others
As a leader, it’s your job to serve others. In every difficult conversation, you need to prioritize the feelings of the receiver, no matter the discomfort you’re feeling about the conversation. Prioritize the small factors of the communication, and consider how they might affect the dynamic.
Speak With Clarity
When starting a difficult conversation, never beat around the bush. It can be difficult to do, but it’s important to be honest and authentic. If it’s time to let someone go, be clear about your point of view, and the causes behind your reasoning.
Advice For Young Professionals
When asked for his advice for young professionals, Krutchik gave us a few key tips for newcomers navigating their career journey.
Actively Seek Out a Mentor
Find a mentor to guide your professional journey and propel your career. As a newcomer in the career force, you’re going to have multiple questions about direction and industry knowledge. By having a mentor to answer your concerns and doubts, your career direction can be much less daunting.
Personalize Your Communications
As Krutchik explains, “It’s very easy to see through a mass email.” Before you hit send on a LinkedIn message, or reach out to a prospective opportunity, always add a personal touch to your communication. A simple way to differentiate your message is by showing you did your research, and including a “why” in your message. If you’re reaching out for professional advice, why did you choose to contact this particular person? How is their expertise important to you? Include factors like these in your messages.
“The world is full of people who talk and don’t deliver,” says Krutchik. Following through on your actions is required for building trust and proving your integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do – in turn, you’ll grow as a leader.
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