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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Illinois Leadership Competencies: Interpersonal/Team: Communication

Effective leadership requires working with and influencing others to achieve common goals and shared vision. Leaders need to develop skills for building personal, authentic, and productive relationships.

About Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

– George Bernard Shaw

A leader demonstrates good communication by engaging in active listening, and sharing perspectives and gathering viewpoints, in both formal and informal environments. 

Perhaps the most vital skill needed in life, from personal relationships to work relationships, is excellent communication. Too often people misinterpret each other’s' words, fail to effectively voice their concerns, and or avoid talking altogether about important issues because of a lack of communication skills. These skills are even more important for leaders, who must guide their employees/team members toward a common goal. Without effective communication, the goal becomes almost impossible to reach.

Use this guide to learn great communication skills, and step-by-step instructions for having difficult but important conversations with all the people we interact with, whether family, friends, colleagues, or bosses.   

10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation

Celeste Headlee's popular TED Talk discusses 10 easy ways to have better conversations with everyone, from a family member to a co-worker to a boss. Each point is easier said than done, but implementing them into our conversations will do wonders for our relationships. She also emphasizes the most important aspect of conversations we could all do a little more of: listening.

Communication Podcasts

Watch William Ury's TED Talk "The Power of Listening" to explore the purpose of listening as an integral part of successful communication.