5 Barriers to Positive Interactions that Plague Leaders

a plaque with the number 5 is attached to a wall

Most business experts agree that the quality of a leader’s personal interactions in the workplace can have a significant impact…on organizational performance as well as on employee performance. 

Much of a leader’s time is spent interacting with others in formal presentations, informal conversations and executive meetings. If these interactions are positive, the outcome for all involved is likely to be positive. If the interactions are negative, the results can be reflected in poor performance, decreased employee engagement and increased turnover. It matters, then, that leaders do what they can to improve their interactions across the board. 

One of the best ways to learn improved communication skills is through action learning for leadership development. If leaders become aware of the 5 main ways their communications can go south, they can tune into how they interact throughout the organization, stop and reflect upon the outcome, and identify how they could have handled it better. It is a recurring cycle of do, reflect, adjust and do again.

Here are five barriers to positive interactions that plague many leaders. They should try not to:

  1. Rely too heavily on the facts.
    They may have reached the right conclusion, but presenting it only in terms of data could alienate those whose support is needed. The best leaders know how to balance the hard facts with empathy for those the decision will affect.

  2. Act before listening well.
    Many leaders have a bias toward action. This can get them into trouble if they rush to fix a problem before fully understanding it. The best leaders exercise enough patience to listen to the context of the situation, include advice from stakeholders and then work thoughtfully and collaboratively toward a solution at a speed that makes sense.

  3. Introduce change without engaging others.
    The change may be necessary, but it will be implemented far more effectively when there is buy-in from senior management as well as from the workers at large. Some leaders at the top forget how they got there…by effectively including key stakeholders and diligently influencing others to follow them.

  4. Coach without having the full picture.
    Leaders wield enormous influence. A thoughtless critical comment can have a devastating effect on the receiver. The best leaders avoid snap judgments. They ask thoughtful questions and look to fill in the gaps so they understand the complete situation before they speak.

  5. Depend on only one communication style.
    It is only natural to have a preferred style of communicating. But the best communicators adjust their style to the situation and those they want to influence. The ability to flex and shift to the most effective approach is the sign of a good leader. 

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