Effective leadership communication

On 19 August, 2015 in Human Resources by Sue Crampton

Effective Leadership Communication

Leading a team in practice is a challenging component of any veterinary professional’s role. Managing people, and processes, requires dedication, self-awareness and a commitment to the business.

Effective leaders must use flexible communication and behaviour techniques to build relationships with their teams. At the heart of leadership are the abilities to use sensory acuity and communicate effectively. Good leaders facilitate conversations with their team as well as share strategies, policies, objectives and other organisational information.

Here are six practical strategies for maintaining effective leadership communication.

Skill 1: Observe and mirror others’ ‘style’

Human beings often have an observable behaviour style. Most of us can quickly tell if someone is introverted vs. extroverted or task-focused vs. relationship-focused at work. The first tip to improving communication is to know your audience.

Skill 2: Use good questions to build rapport

Asking questions is an excellent way of showing a team member or colleague you are genuinely interested and care about them. It is also a vital tool to uncover more information or to challenge a team member or colleague’s interpretation of a situation.

Skill 3: Listen to the whole person

When asking questions to ascertain a team member or colleague’s needs, listen to the information the team member or colleague is offering you. It enables you to form a picture of the team member or colleague and their lifestyle.

Listening is a vital life skill. Whilst some people appear to be better at listening than others, most people have to work at it.

Skill 4: Use reflective responses and validation

Team members or colleagues can feel interrogated if we continue to ask closed-ended questions in quick succession. Whether you ask open or closed questions, they can become more effective in communication when interspersed with reflective responding. Reflective responding is when a team member or colleague answers a question …you pause …and then reflect the response to ensure they have heard correctly.

Additionally, when using reflective responding you might ask the team member or colleague to elaborate further on their answer. This helps avoid the danger of ‘jack-rabbiting’ through a series of questions with little energy given to stopping, listening and reflecting on the information at hand.

Skill 5: Self-disclose appropriately

Self-disclosure relates to the way in which you let yourself be known to your team member or colleague. Self-disclosure is when you may share a piece of information with their team member or colleague about their past history or personal skills and experiences. There are two types of self-disclosure:

1.    Showing involvement – personal statements such as “I’m delighted!” or “I admire your courage” or “I am pleased you like my idea!”

2.    Disclosing personal information – this relates to sharing personal information which, if done properly, serves to assist the team member or colleague in seeing that you understand what they are going through. Examples may be “I remember my first year out of university and I certainly found many challenges” or “I’ve worked with Dr. Blake before – would you mind if I shared with you some strategies that really worked for me?”

You have the choice as to whether they disclose personal information. Sharing personal information can be dangerous when not done appropriately or respectfully.

Skill 6: Use sensing statements

Sometimes in communication with a team member or colleague we can ‘sense’ their feelings. Perhaps we notice a facial expression or a change of posture. As mammals, this is a natural skill to help us avoid danger.

In clinic life there may be times where a team member or colleague appears to disagree with you. This is okay! The real skill is to ‘notice what you notice’ and calmly address it. Too often we do the sensing, but we don’t stop to clarify. We barrel through information just to get it done and over with.


Having a clear vision of leadership, what you’re striving for and how to attain it, can make all the difference to running a successful, thriving business. For more information on how to be an effective leader, check out CCG’s Practice Management School.


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