For some people, leadership qualities are apparent and naturally present. You know them—they were probably the kids who were team captains, the teens who worked as camp counselors, and the adults who plan for parties and vacations with friends. Others have to put forth a conscious effort to succeed in a leadership role. All types of people can make great leaders, though, because there’s no one right way to lead.
Another important thing to remember is that a job title doesn’t make a leader. Employees in any role can be great leaders by utilizing certain skills and strategies. No matter what type of leader you’re working toward becoming, one of the main skill categories needed is communication. Check out these 7 communication tips for leaders, and share them with all of the aspiring safety leaders on your team.
1. Be Honest
The first tip we have to offer is honesty. You’ve heard the saying “honesty is the best policy” and other similar phrases. Well, in order to be a good leader, this is true. Being honest and transparent encourages trust and open communication. It’s tough to lead when you’re not trusted, so this is a great place to start.
2. Use Constructive Language
Being honest doesn’t have to be harsh. Remember to use words and phrases that are constructive and positive rather than negative. This can be tricky when there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Make sure you talk in terms of improvement and progress instead of weaknesses or inadequacy. It’s important that your safety culture remain positive and encouraging or it won’t be successful.
3. Follow Through on Promises
Part of being honest includes following through on promises. Don’t make any promises that you can’t keep, whether you’re management or a new hire. If you can’t follow through, be up-front and honest about the situation. Safety leaders who leave promises unfulfilled really aren’t leaders because there will remain a lack of trust.
Safety leaders aren’t safety dictators. It’s crucial to listen to employees and upper-level management all equally. Communication is a two-way street, so half of the job is listening. Leaders are informed by everyone, and the best leaders understand this.
5. Encourage Input
It’s not enough to just listen if no one is talking. Create an environment where employees are comfortable with speaking up. Encouraging input is a great way to both increase and improve communication throughout the workplace. Each employee has a unique on-the-job experience, so it’s important that they communicate with one another and with leadership to keep everyone on the same page.
6. Provide Feedback
In any safety culture, providing feedback can make a bigger impact than you realize. Many employees find it helpful when feedback is given on the work floor while a task is being performed—this helps to solidify in the real world learned information that may have only been theoretical knowledge beforehand. Acknowledging good safety practices is an easy way to encourage employees to embrace your company’s safety culture as well.
7. Use Appropriate Tone and Language
You can deliver great information that’s helpful, honest, and constructive until you’re blue in the face, but it won’t make a difference to any of your team members if you’re not speaking their language. As any good writer would tell you, know your audience. This goes for safety training, on-the-job feedback, and everything in between. Get to know the employees in your workplace, and speak in a way that they will understand. Being a leader doesn’t mean using sophisticated language and a stern voice—it means communicating in a way that can be understood and that makes an impact.
Whether you’re looking for some new tips to help you improve your own safety leadership or you’re working on trying to become more of a leader in your current role, these 7 communication tips for leaders can really make a difference. Communication is vital in any safety culture, and these skills will always be relevant in your workplace.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for your company’s safety culture and aspiring leaders, check out these powerful leadership quotes.