3.1. Communication Skills for Leaders. Course Description: Class Length: Equipment and Supplies: Class Materials: Level III. Army Family Team Building

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1 Level III 3.1 Communication Skills for Leaders Course Description: This class discusses ways to effectively communicate as a leader. The students will assess their communication skills and determine areas for improvement. Class Length: 75 minutes Equipment and Supplies: Overhead Projector Viewing Screen Flip Chart Markers Masking Tape Class Materials: Lesson Plan Handouts 1. Are You Communicating Effectively? 2. Communication Guidelines for Leaders 3. Are You a Listening Leader 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 1

2 4. Keys to Effective Listening 5. Feedback Techniques Viewgraphs 1. Communication Skills for Leaders 2. Course Objectives 3. [Goal of Communication] 4. Communication Guidelines for Leaders 5. Leaders Use a Variety of Ways to Communicate 6. Leaders Listen 7. Effective Listening Can Help Avoid 8. Questions for Scenario 9. Leaders Provide Feedback Two-Way Communication 10. Feedback Techniques 11. Course Objectives 12. Communication Skills for Leaders Exercises: 1. Communication Assessment (Handout 1) 2. Leader Listening Assessment (Handout 3) 3. Feedback Techniques (Handout 5) Course Objectives: Students will be able to Communicate effectively as a leader. 2. Assess personal skills as an effective communicator. 3. Apply skills and techniques to improve communication skills Lesson Plan 2006/7

3 Level III Communication Skills for Leaders 1 Introduction SHOW Viewgraph 1: Communication Skills for Leaders On a piece of paper, fill in the blank: a key ingredient to being an effective leader is. Viewgraph 1: Communication Skills for Leaders How many of you take communication or communicating effectively for granted? PAUSE. Communication is central to all human behavior and is one of the essential elements of leadership. All individuals, especially leaders, must be able to present information in a manner that is clear and concise in order to be effective in groups or organizations they lead. Communication is not effective unless it is understood by the intended audience. This requires that the communicator be aware of the different means of communication and then choose and utilize the most effective means. Effective communication also requires leaders to receive information from others which, in turn, requires the ability to listen well. Without communication, there is no leadership. The ability to communicate determines the effectiveness of the leader. Leaders with exemplary communication skills stand out in a crowd. Our purpose today with this class is to discuss the importance of the relationship between communication and leadership. SHOW Viewgraph 2: Course Objectives Viewgraph 2: Course Objectives By the end of the class, you will be able to: 1. Communicate effectively as a leader. 2. Assess personal skills as an effective communicator. 3. Apply skills and techniques to improve communication skills. 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 3

4 2. The Goal of Communication Think of a leadership position that you ve recently held in an organization, on a team, or within your family. What are some ways you have communicated your thoughts, ideas, and wishes to others? (Possible answers: meetings, face-to-face, s, phone calls, etc.) Are you always successful in communicating your ideas, thoughts, and desires? PAUSE. Why or why not? Viewgraph 3: [Goals of Communication] SHOW Viewgraph 3: [Goal of Communication] As discussed in Level II, communication is a process whereby thoughts, ideas, wishes, or emotions are transmitted to and received by others. The goal of communication is for the sender s message to be understood and acted upon by the receiver. What happens if this goal is not achieved? (Possible answers: confusion, frustration, plans fail, ideas don t come to fruition, etc.) Many of the problems that occur in a group or an organization are the direct result of people failing to communicate. Faulty communication can lead to confusion and cause a good plan to fail. As a leader, how well are your intended messages being understood by the receiver? Are you achieving this goal of communication? Lesson Plan 2006/7

5 Level III Communication Skills for Leaders EXERCISE 1 Communication Assessment INSTRUCTOR NOTE: This exercise is to help the students assess their communication skills as leaders. Give the students about 5 minutes to answer the questions. Stress to the students that this assessment is only as good as they are honest with their answers. After the students have finished the assessment, have them circle the numbers of the question(s) they answered with a NO. These are the areas they will want to make improvements. Turn to Handout 1: Are You Communicating Effectively? This is a personal assessment. You will not share your answers. It will only be as effective as you are honest in assessing your communication skills. You can use this exercise as a personal guide to understanding your strengths and weaknesses as a leader with respect to your communication skills. Handout 1: Are You Communicating Effectively You have 5 minutes to complete this assessment. Please begin. Once everyone has completed the assessment, have the students circle the numbers of the questions they answered with a NO. Then ask the students How did that go? Do you communicate as well as you think you do? Are your group members receiving the messages you intend to send? Effective communication occurs only if the receiver understands the exact information or idea that the sender intended to transmit. Is this always an easy task? (No.) On the surface, communication appears to be simple write an , make a phone call, or send a memo, but in fact it s a complex process. Leaders must understand the various elements of the communication process to apply them effectively. This process is the chain of understanding that integrates the members of an organization or team from top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side. The following guidelines will help leaders achieve this task. 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 5

6 SHOW Viewgraph 4: Communication Guidelines for Leaders Turn to Handout 2: Communication Guidelines for Leaders. Let s discuss these major areas separately. Pay close attention to those areas from your assessment that will help you to communicate more effectively. INSTRUCTOR NOTE: The three parts on Handout 2 will be discussed at different times through the rest of the class. Refer the students to the specific part as you discuss it. Some of the information on the handout is not outlined in the script. It provides background information to the student to facilitate discussion. 3. Communication Types Viewgraph 5: Leaders Use a Variety of Ways to Communicate SHOW Viewgraph 5: Leaders Use a Variety of Ways to Communicate The first guideline is that leaders should use various means to communicate. They should be confident in how and what they want to communicate. Read Part I on Handout 2 which outlines why leaders should know what and how to communicate. PAUSE. Why do you think this is important? GET responses. Do you think that one medium reaches everyone? GET responses. Why or Why not? GET responses Lesson Plan 2006/7

7 Level III Communication Skills for Leaders If you only use to communicate with your team, what may happen? (Possible answers: not everyone will be receiving the message/information; some people may not have capabilities; some may have computer problems; some may only check their account occasionally; etc.) What alternatives do you have to communicate with your team? (Possible answers: newsletter, phone call, meeting, etc.,) Do you think that how you deliver the message (language used, non-verbals) is just as important as the means of communication? (Yes.) Why? GET responses. As a leader, you may need to polish your oral communication skills. Keep in mind that the people you are leading are watching you and you are setting an example for them. You are potentially a role model for these people, so you want to communicate effectively when speaking to them. Remember when considering written communications, you have to include electronic communication. Those are things like , instant messaging, and chat forums. Those written communications are just as important as a formally written document. Reading is a form of communication that some of us do more now than ever, thanks to s. We must remember the message we read and understand may not always be the message intended. Always clarify any uncertainties. One of the most overlooked and underused aspects of communication is listening. If you are not listening, it will be difficult to effectively communicate. Therefore, good leaders always listen carefully. The second communication guideline for leaders is to listen as well as you speak. Turn to Handout 2 and read the points of being an active listener. 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 7

8 4. Leaders Listen Viewgraph 6: Leaders Listen SHOW Viewgraph 6: Leaders Listen When effective leaders communicate clearly, they often inspire others to take action. One way they inspire and motivate is by listening. Good leaders must be good listeners. Why is it imperative to have good listening skills as a leader? (Possible answers: gain trust; obtain information; gain a sharing of ideas and thoughts; build teamwork; etc.) Listening can affect everything from building rapport to team cohesiveness to whether you can get people to follow your lead. As a leader, what happens when individuals in your team, group, or organization feel that you are not listening? (Possible answers: lack of trust; people will not respect the leader; people will not share their ideas; etc.) Viewgraph 7: Effective Listening Can Avoid SHOW Viewgraph 7: Effective Listening Can Avoid Effective and thoughtful listening can help avoid ineffective communications which can lead to such unwanted results such as: Low morale: Why would morale drop if the leader isn t listening to the group? GET responses. (Many times they no longer feel like a productive member of that group and will disengage themselves.) Lost respect: Why would members of an organization or group lose respect for their leader? GET responses. (People want to feel valued. If they think their leader isn t listenin to them, they may disregard their leader.) Lesson Plan 2006/7

9 Level III Communication Skills for Leaders Misunderstandings: What are the results of misunderstandings? GET responses. (These can turn a discussion into a conflict, or sour a valued relationship. Other repercussions include time lost to personality squabbles.) Reduction of fresh ideas: Would people ever stop presenting their ideas? Yes. Why? GET responses. (If people don t think their ideas are heard or accepted) Then, what can happen to the organization? GET responses. (Reduces the organization s store of knowledge and members innovative ideas.) INSTRUCTOR NOTE: Read the scenario to the students. Following the scenario, give the students 5 minutes to discuss the questions on Viewgraph 8 with a partner and then quickly go over their answers. Listen to the following scenario. Lisa, an FRG leader, is at a social event when Sally, one of the spouses from that FRG, approaches her. Lisa Leader asks Sally how the plans for the Christmas Party are coming along. Sally excitedly tells Lisa about all of the great ideas she s received and plans on implementing. All of a sudden Lisa starts telling Sally about the time she planned a Christmas Party and how wonderful it was. SHOW Viewgraph 8 : Questions for Scenario Viewgraph 8: Questions for Scenario Now, turn to your neighbor and discuss this scenario by answering the following questions on Viewgraph 8. You have 5 minutes. Then we will go over your thoughts. 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 9

10 After 5 minutes, stop the students sharing and ask these questions: What just happened here? (Lisa interrupted Sally and didn t show she was interested in what Sally had to say.) How do you think Sally feels? (Lisa is really not interested in what Sally is communicating; Sally feels unappreciated; etc.) What is the message being sent by Lisa the leader? (My ideas are more important than yours; I didn t listen to you; etc.) And what do you think the message being received by Sally is? (My ideas aren t valued; I m not important; you want me to do it your way even though you asked me to plan this party; etc.) Is there a better way that Lisa Leader could have handled this situation? Yes. How? (Lisa could have asked Sally what her ideas were; listened to what Sally had to say; etc.) When you think about this scenario, have you ever found yourself doing this same thing? How would you rate your listening skills? EXERCISE 2 Listening Assessment INSTRUCTOR NOTE: This exercise is to help the students assess their listening skills as leaders. Give the students about 5 minutes to answer the questions. Stress to the students that this assessment is only as good as they are honest with their answers. After the students have finished the assessment, have them circle the numbers of the questions they answered with a YES. These are the areas they will want to make improvements. Handout 3: Are You a Listening Leader? Turn to Handout 3: Are You a Listening Leader? Lesson Plan 2006/7

11 Level III Communication Skills for Leaders This is a personal assessment in which you will not share your answers. As wiith the first assessment in this class, it will only be as good as you are honest assessing your listening skills. You can use this exercise as a personal guide to understanding what your listening strengths and weaknesses are. You ve got 5 minutes to complete this tool. Please begin. Once everyone has completed, have the students circle the number of the questions that they answered with a YES. Then lead the students through a discussion with the following questions. Circle the number of the questions that you answered with a YES. These are the areas that you may want to improve upon. How did that go? Do you listen as well as you think you do? Do you know what areas are your strengths and you can build upon? What about those areas that are a little bit weaker and need some improvement? Turn to Handout 4: Keys to Effective Listening. These are keys that relate to the questions asked in the assessment. They will help you to open the door to better listening skills. Handout 4: Keys to Effective Listening Read over these points on the handout and put a check mark next to the items you need to improve. PAUSE for a couple of minutes for students to do this. Listening well takes effort, especially in your role as a leader but the advantages are numerous. It can be one of the easiest, most effective ways to make a dramatic difference in the way others perceive you and in your relationships with them. The effects on your leadership can be limitless as good listeners communicate respect for others, show themselves to be open-minded, receptive, and develop strong relationships with people who contribute to their success. Listening may be the single most powerful skill of communication since it demonstrates respect for others. 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 11

12 A great way to demonstrate effective listening skills is by using feedback techniques. Providing effective feedback during communication is our third communication guideline for leaders on Handout 2. Turn back and read the points in Part III. 5. Feedback Viewgraph 9: Leaders Provide Feedback Two-Way Communication SHOW Viewgraph 9: Leaders Provide Feedback Two-Way Communication How many times have you thought or have heard the following? I don t know why that didn t get done I told Bob to do it. Many leaders think they have communicated once they ve told someone to do something. Unfortunately, the message or in this case the directive was probably misunderstood. Remember a message has not been communicated unless it is understood by the receiver. As a leader and sender of many messages, how do you know that your message has been properly received? (Possible answers: when someone responds or does what asked to do; a nod of the head; feedback of some kind; etc.) Viewgraph 10: Feedback Techniques SHOW Viewgraph 10: Feedback Techniques A great technique is using two-way communications or feedback. EXERCISE 3 Feedback Techniques INSTRUCTOR NOTE: Use Handout 5 as a worksheet for the students as you go through different feedback techniques. For non-verbal, students can write down examples as you ask them the questions below. For verbal techniques, direct them to perform each exercise as you go over that section. Go over the techniques together as a large group. Handout 5: Feedback Techniques Turn to Handout 5: Feedback Techniques Lesson Plan 2006/7

13 Level III Communication Skills for Leaders Feedback techniques help you to actively respond to a speaker s message. Feedback confirms the receipt the message being sent and whether the receiver understands the message. This includes both verbal and nonverbal responses to another person s message. Non-Verbal What would be some non-verbal feedback responses be which might let the sender know that you understand their message? (Possible answers: smile, nod of the head, etc.) Would a nod of a head or a squeeze of hand signify that the receiver of the message is in agreement with the sender of the message? YES. What if someone sucks in air deeply and exhales hard? What do you think the receiver of the message is communicating? (Possible answers: exasperation or frustration with the situation. What is a non-verbal cue that someone sends if they just are not getting the meaning of the message? (Possible answers: shrugging shoulders or maybe dipping their eyebrows. Non-verbal feedback is a quick way to let the sender of a message know that you are listening and are either getting the message or not. Another method of providing feedback is verbally. 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 13

14 Verbal There are several types of verbal feedback techniques. I Messages There are two types of messages you can provide as a listener an I Message or a You Message. An I message focuses on how behaviors make you feel and includes a request for a change in behavior. You messages focus on the receiver, rather than the receiver s actions. You messages can put the receiver on the defensive, because he or she feels blamed or at fault. It is best to use an I message in providing feedback. Read the scenario on the bottom of Handout 5-1 and write an example of a You message and then an I message in the space provided from the spouse s perspective. Give the students a couple of minutes to write down both messages. Then, ask for volunteers to give the answers. Ask the group for opinions/suggestions and talk about both messages so the students understand the difference. Example of YOU Message: You made me angry because you didn t tell me until today that you are going TDY the day after tomorrow. How many of us do this? How would you feel receiving this message? Example of I Message: When I found out about your TDY at the last minute, I had to rearrange our family s schedule. When this happens I feel angry and frustrated. It would really help me if we could discuss your TDY as soon as you know about it. If you heard this message how would you feel? Would you be a little more receptive to discussing the TDY issue? Ensure that the messages you send meet the situation and are complete. Your message should include a specific description of needs and behavior, an expression of feelings and a presentation of tangible results. Another feedback technique is Parroting Lesson Plan 2006/7

15 Level III Communication Skills for Leaders Parroting Parroting is a basic feedback communication skill in which the receiver repeats the message to the sender word for word. For example, you ask for directions to the Commissary. You are told, go down Artillery St. and take a right on Corps Blvd. You would let the person know you understand the directions by saying, go down Artillery St. and take a right on Corps Blvd. Is this a technique that you would use often? GET responses. Why or Why not? GET responses. Be aware that parroting can come across as condescending or patronizing so you will want to be careful in its use. However, parroting may be very helpful when you are speaking on the phone with someone who is giving you detailed information. For example: As the speaker, if I said to you: The address is 2727 Smith Street. Please be here at What would your response be as the receiver? 2727 Smith Street at OK, thank you. Any other examples? Let s look at the last feedback technique: Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing Paraphrasing is a way of checking to make sure that you understand the other person s ideas, information or suggestions, as she/he intended by letting the other person know what the idea means to you, in your own words. Paraphrasing illustrates two areas of communication, the information or content and how the person feels about the information or content. Look at the example on Handout 5-2: Speaker: I ve asked Jane a thousand times to not release the redeployment dates until we ve received final verification from the commander as I don t want the families to get upset in case the dates change. Handout 5-2: Feedback Techniques: Paraphrasing 2006/7 3.1 Lesson Plan 15

16 What would your response be if you paraphrased what Jane is saying? Write it down on the handout next to you. GIVE a couple of minutes for the students to do that and then ask for volunteers to share their answer. What are some other examples when you could use Paraphrasing as a feedback technique? These various feedback techniques will tell the sender that the receiver understood the message, its level of importance, and what must be done with it. Remember, communication is a two-way exchange, not just a telling. All parties must participate in order to have a complete information exchange. 6. Summary Remember, effective communication is an ongoing process. It is not something that can be delegated if leadership is to be effective. Communication is a key element in successful leadership. It demands considerable allocation of time. It would be beneficial for all leaders to spend time improving their leadership skills. On a piece of paper write down two things from Handouts 2 and 4 that you will work on over the next two weeks. PAUSE for a couple of minutes. Viewgraph 11: Course Objectives Show Viewgraph 11: Course Objectives Viewgraph 12: Communication Skills for Leaders Let s review the objectives for this class. 1. Communicate effectively as a leader. 2. Assess personal skills as an effective communicator. 3. Apply skills and techniques to improve communication skills. Show Viewgraph 12: Communication Skills for Leaders Thank you for your attention. Please take a moment to complete the evaluation for this class using the form for Communication Skills for Leaders Lesson Plan 2006/7

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