The Effective Communication and Its Connection with Leadership Abilities

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This paper explains the findings of the research concerning effective communication through connection and its relevance to leadership abilities. The end notes five key findings and makes recommendations for the actions needed to become a leader who is able to connect with others. You are asked to review the below information, and decide whether the recommendations would be applicable to those who seek strengthening their communication and leadership skills.

Maxwell breaks this excellent read into two segments: Connecting Principles and Connecting Practices, each containing five chapters. Each segment is written in great depth, and applies Maxwell’s life experiences and findings on what makes great leaders stand apart from the rest. The book outlines the necessary skills that successful leaders possess, and advises on how to practice these ideologies, both in an individual’s professional and personal life. The title of the book captures exactly what is intended of the read; it expresses that though all human beings communicate, there are only a handful that truly communicate effectively, reaching a level of connection.

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The first portion of the book discusses the underlying elements of connection, and advises on the impact of how individuals communicate, in hopes of achieving connection. Maxwell begins by stressing the importance of communication over all parts of life. As people, we all desire attention and connection; in the fast paced world we live in, how is one to choose which messages to tune into, and which to tune out? On average, people speak approximately 16,000 words a day. To ensure your words count, you must communicate effectively. The end goal with effective communication is reaching a connection with your audience. Whether it be a large crowd, a small group, or a one-on-one interaction, connecting with others is key to successfully get your message across.

While connection may come naturally to some, there are barriers that tend to hold back others. Clear communication takes initiative, courage, and truly begins with an individual’s attitude. One main point of connection is that it is always about others. Often people are too caught up with their own lives and their own achievements; this causes individuals to spend time talking only about themselves, which in turn disconnects you from the group. Self-centered happiness is detrimental to one’s personal and professional lives. True leaders must shift the focus from themselves to focusing on helping others learn, find value, and assist in applying that value to benefit others. Maxwell explains how self-centeredness is instilled deep in us, and how people must mature and see the benefits of letting go of insecurities caused by large egos.

There is a common saying that states “actions speak louder than words,” and Maxwell’s book follows in suit; connection goes far beyond words. Body language, tone and word choice are all crucial to how information is received by others. A leaders job is to be seen as more than just a messenger; effective communication requires thought, emotion and action. It is through conviction, passion and credibility that successful leaders are able to connect with others, and that their voices are heard. Maxwell discusses that there are four components to connection: visual, intellectual, emotional and verbal. While it may be simple to isolate each of these connection mechanisms, excellent leaders understand the need for each, and utilize them collectively to reach their audience. It is important that leaders understand how to connect through each of these channels, and embrace their true self through effective communication.

Connection is not a simple process and it requires leaders to be proactive in all situations, which takes copious amounts of energy. Deciphering how to move people emotionally and relationally can be draining, but it is an essential part of gaining connection. Go the extra mile for those you wish to connect with, try and personalize conversations, and take time to make people feel included. Great leaders give off a certain energy, and this is what attracts others; use this energy to your benefit when attempting to connect with new people. It is sometimes awkward when meeting new people, and individuals tend to sit back and wait for others to engage. Do not sit back, speak first! If you know the audience you are about to address, prepare for the situation, and practice patience in your audiences responses. It is easy to get caught up in how fast the world moves around us; remember to slow down. Moving too quickly will hinder effective communication and ultimately leave you disconnected.

A key point when exerting energy on connection is to not forget to recharge. Think about what recharges you personally, it could be a day at the beach or a quiet book by the fire. Whatever your recharging ritual may be, acknowledge it and work it into your busy schedule. Leaders must apply all they have to achieve the best connection results. A large amount of energy is required, but as long as you give yourself the chance to recharge, you will become successful and the energy disbursed will be worth it.

The second half of Maxwell’s book expresses how individuals should practice these principles to gain the highest level of connection. The most common way that people connect is through common ground. The world is filled with trillions of people, and each of these people view the world and ideas differently. The challenge is to find commonalities with all people who cross your paths in hopes of connection. The book explains that there are barriers that hold individuals back from finding similarities. People tend to make quick assumptions about others; never assume what you do not know for sure.

Assumption mixed with arrogance is a toxic combination when searching for similarities in others. Maxwell also suggests that sometimes leaders fear the lack of control when sharing their knowledge. Successful leaders aim to spread knowledge to followers, and use this knowledge collectively to benefit the cause at hand. Connecting with others is a choice, and great leaders make themselves available through openness, thoughtfulness and listening abilities. These individuals truly care about their followers, adapt quickly, and practice humility by sharing not only their success stories, but also their failures.

Additionally, simplicity is a key practice of connecting. For example, when addressing a large group of people, keep it simple and emphasize your key points through clarity. People think the more big words and elaborate concepts discussed help them achieve success. More so than not, this leaves people confused, and likely missing the point. Speak to your audience, and not as if they are below you. Address you points clearly, and repeat the most crucial concepts; this will leave listeners with a memorable and clear message. This is the most efficient way to create an experience that your listeners will enjoy. Keep your followers interested by capturing their attention from the beginning, and engaging all parties involved. Ask questions, share personal experiences, get them out of their seats and moving to ensure you hold their interest.

By peaking the interest of their audience, sharing insight, feelings and knowledge, connectors inspire. Great leaders have the ability to connect to others on a higher level and gain the trust of their followers by letting them know that they understand them and that they have their complete focus; this is why self-centered people do not connect well. People need to see a leaders principles clearly to be expected to listen fully. Listeners must feel their leaders passion, not only towards the subject of discussion but the passion for their followers. Passion alone is extremely powerful and has the ability to get people to feel. Passion mixed with confidence and energy is enough to reach people, but leaders must be willing to go the extra mile to achieve this connection.

At the end of the day, someone might not remember the events that were discussed, but they will surely remember how a leader made them feel. Practicing the necessary connection principles is not enough; successful leaders must incorporate what they communicate into their lives. To connect with others successfully, a great leader must first connect with themselves. Those who are successful take the time to really understand who they are and what value they can add. Self-awareness and positivity towards ourselves create a lasting foundation in an individual’s life, which can assist in benefiting the advancement of others. Leaders are honest with themselves and others, and accountable for their actions. They practice integrity, and preach their practices to others.

John Maxwell is an excellent writer and leader, and this book was truly an inspiring read. His word choice and personal stories add an attractive flare that captivates the reader. After finishing this book, I passed it on to several of my coworkers, and even my family and close friends, as I feel this is a must read. I feel I was able to relate to this book on a high level because I try and practice connecting with others every chance I get (this is why I chose this book). It is important for people to understand that everyone has the potential to be an effective communicator and connect with those around them.

I wish I could give a hundred recommendations from this book, but I only chose points I felt to be superior. Connecting with others is done through more than spoken word; it is through body language, tone and word choice that sincerely connects people. Finding common ground is key, and the best way to locate this is through asking questions to those you wish to connect to and fully listening to the words they speak. Next time you are in a place where you do not know anyone, turn and look for someone in the same situation. Put away your phone and initiate conversation through questions and finding shared interests or experiences. Communication is a powerful tool, and using it in the most efficient way will not only allow you to help others, but to benefit yourself as well.

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