“Leaders are born but not made” is what one half of the world says while the other half says, “Leaders are made, not born”. Every person has leadership qualities present but not everyone gets the opportunity to showcase them. While some function as leaders with the required designation and title, others perform the function of leaders without a title.

Let us examine some of the basic qualities which we look for in a leader. They are:

  • Efficiency and effectiveness
  • Providing appropriate guidance and motivation
  • Clear and precise communication

Communication is an essential part of the first two functions since a leader is in constant contact with his team as they work towards achieving the assigned goals. Usually communication from people in leadership positions can be classified into two categories:

  • Positive – Used during knowledge transitions, training, motivation and feedback
  • Negative – Mostly used during feedback

To enhance team productivity, two types of communication are recommended:

POSITIVE COMMUNICATION– Highlights positive aspects and provides motivation and guidance

PROGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION– Points out areas of improvement while avoiding discouragement and loss of morale and motivates the individual/team to continue aiming higher.

Progressive communication is an art which can only be developed over a period with a lot of practice. “Think before you speak” is one of the main mantras for leaders to make progressive communication a habit. Four basic steps can be followed to incorporate progressive communication in your everyday interaction with your team:

ACQUAINT – Gain a complete understanding of the individual/team you are dealing with and store every little detail about them at the back of your mind as this will help you to relate to them and communicate effectively.

ASSESS – Always think over exactly what you are going to say before saying it. Editing and deleting helps to avoid misunderstanding.

AVOID – Stay away from using negative words or phrases as they can cause more harm than intended.

ADOPT – Use substitute phrases from the table below to suggest improvement measures in a positive way as this is one of the most important uses of progressive communication.

Don’t do this. Why don’t we consider this other option and then decide?
Why did you do that? Could you please substantiate the reason behind your approach?
That was a wrong decision. Do you think that decision has provided us with the desired results?
Do not interrupt me. Can your question wait until I finish what I am saying?
You don’t know anything. You have some learning to do.
You are taking too long. How long will this delay last?
This is not enough. We have a lot more left to do.
You are taking too long. How long will this delay last?
This is not enough. We have a lot more left to do.
Listen to me. Hear me out completely before stating your suggestions/comments.
This is how you should do it. This is how it needs to be done.
Can you understand what I’m saying? Should I rephrase for better clarity?
You have made some mistakes. There are some areas of improvement you need to focus on.
Why would you do something like that? Could you elaborate the reason behind your actions?
All of you are slow. We are behind schedule, and need to find a way to catch up.
Everyone messed it up. We need to take some serious corrective action now.

A leader and his team are identified as one entity, and this aspect needs to be clearly understood by both. The efficiency and effectiveness of a team reflects upon the leader and his leadership skills and vice versa. They should understand there is only “we” in a team and “I” or “me” cease to exist. This mentality combined with progressive communication helps a team to scale great heights.


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