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Oct 29, 2019

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18 Leadership Communication Trends to Look For in 2020

Leadership communication is one of the most important factors that influences business success. Learning the skills necessary to have effective...

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Leadership communication is one of the most important factors that influences business success. Learning the skills necessary to have effective workplace conversations is critical if we want to implement changes and produce real business results

Effective leadership communication is not just a new business buzz phrase. It has a clear and critical impact on an organization’s bottom line. Moreover, good communication is one of the most important leadership traits

Therefore, every leader should provide their employees with the tools, and the opportunities, to have meaningful and productive conversations.

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The Definition of Leadership Communication

Leadership communications consists of messages related to company culture and core values. These messages are of a significant importance to the key stakeholders such as employees, customers, strategic partners, shareholders and media. 

Communications coming from leaders are so important because they have a direct impact on the company's vision, mission and transformations. 

The most important goal of messages coming from leaders is to build trust in the workplace and keep employees engaged

In this blog, we will go over some of the most important trends leaders should apply in internal communications.

Why Leadership Communication is Important

3 in 4 employees see effective communication as the number one leadership attribute. Yet, less than 1 in 3 employees feel like their leaders communicate efficiently

leadership-communication-statistic

Leaders have a direct impact on employee satisfaction, motivation and productivity. Without effective leadership communication, employers shouldn’t expect from their employees to be engaged and connected to their workplace. 

Moreover, a research shows that leaders and managers are accountable for 70% of employee motivation and happiness

In order to inspire and in order to motivate, business leaders need to establish and foster a strong line of communication with the 10 main goals:

  • Align employees with company’s culture
  • Align employees with company’s strategic goals
  • Build trust in the workplace
  • Keep employees engaged
  • Encourage two-way conversations
  • Boost employee collaboration
  • Keep employees informed
  • Communicate changes effectively
  • Prevent internal miscommunications
  • Make important information available

18 Leadership Communication Trends for 2020

Leadership communication has changed significantly in the past few years, and it is now more important than ever before. 

However, leaders need to be ready to deal with these changes and adjust their internal communications strategy

Let’s take a look into some of the leadership communications trends you should consider implementing in 2020. 

1. Keeping employees engaged

Employee engagement drives employee productivity and business success. Yet, 85% of employees are not engaged in the workplace. 

Leaders should, through good internal communication, be able to keep employees engaged and motivated. 

Quality conversations build trust, empathy and clarity, which are all key ingredients for healthy relationships in the workplace

If you look at the biggest drivers of employee engagement, many of them revolve around poor communication. Disengaged employees don’t understand how they fit into the culture, how managers view their performance, or where the company is headed. 

2. Building an effective internal communications strategy

Even though companies are becoming aware of the importance of internal comms for business success, 60% of companies are still missing a long-term strategy for their internal communications.

leadership-communication-strategy

Leaders should play the most important role in building this strategy and support its execution. 

3. Aligning employees with strategic goals

Leaders are responsible for creating synergy and organizational alignment within their companies. This is the most important prerequisite for creating a sense of commitment toward common goals.

When your employees have a good understanding of your company’s vision, mission, strategic goals and company culture, they are likely to feel more motivated and engaged.

However, many leaders are still facing challenges related to employees’ misalignment with the company's core values and goals.

leadership-comms-aligned-workforce

4. Communicating more often

Employees expect more from the leaders when it comes to communications. 

Moreover, 71% of employees believe that their leaders do not spend enough time communicating goals and plans.

So one of the most important leadership communications trends to consider in 2020 is to implement a more robust and efficient internal communications strategy.

5. Building stronger relationships

There is a clear move towards more impactful leadership communication strategies among senior leaders. Leaders are now prioritizing the creation of more open and impactful connections with employees. 

Leaders should strive towards moving to a less top-down controlled approach and provide more opportunities for collaboration across the organization. 

Great leaders are able to see that putting leadership communication strategies in place helps to overcome many internal communication challenges

6. Developing an efficient content strategy

Content lies at the heart of everything communicators do, but an increasing number of internal communications content gets ignored by employees. This is why leaders should know how to implement a successful content strategy and management.


“Communicators face competition, both internally and externally, for audience attention” 


says Karl Schmidt, Practice Vice President at Gartner.

Creating content that is personalized and relevant is now a must. Therefore, employers are turning to new technologies that can help them boost employee engagement by filtering content that is relevant to employees. 

7. Making content more engaging

71% of employees don’t read or engage with company emails or content.

internal-communications-content

The main reason why employees don’t engage with internal content is because they get too much information that is not relevant to them. 

For this reason, leaders are now turning to technology solutions that enable them to create personalized news feeds for the employees. 

Technologies such as Smarp serve as the center point for content discovery, ensuring employees stay up to date with company news and industry trends. Employees can subscribe to the topics they are interested in, and their news feeds provide everyone with a personalized, filtered view.

💡 Extra tip: Consider adding video to your internal communications strategy. 

8. Building trust and encouraging transparency

Trust is the foundation for successful business. To build trust within workplaces, leaders should communicate in a way that is truthful, open and transparent.

However, this is not easy as many employees don’t trust their employers. 

2016 Edelman Trust Barometer showed in a survey of 33,000 individuals in 28 countries that almost 1 in 3 employees don’t trust their employers.

9. Reaching every employee

Making sure that important information reaches the right employees is the crucial part of every internal communication strategy. 

However, it can be the most challenging one. 

Moreover, 74% of employees have the feeling they are missing out on important information at work.

leadership-communication-challenge

Therefore, when communicating, leaders need to have a strategy about how the right information will reach the right employees at the right time. 

10. Choosing the right communication channels and tools

Leaders should understand what is the best way to deliver important information to the employees. 

Email is not the most effective way to reach and engage with employees anymore!

60.8% of employees in a survey about workplace communication preferences revealed that they either occasionally, often or always ignore emails at work

With so many people skimming their inboxes, leaders should now consider new internal communications channels and technologies. 

leadership-communication-email-stats

11. Supporting bottom-up conversations

Leaders need to do a better job in supporting two-way conversations and making employees feel like they can speak up.

Roughly half of employees aren’t regularly speaking their minds at work. Only 52% of employees say that they always or almost always speak their minds when having work-related conversations with their leaders. 

12. Encouraging more employee-driven content

Two-way conversations are impossible to achieve if you don’t encourage employee-driven content. 

In addition to leaders sharing important messages and information, engage your employees by letting them create and consume employee-generated content.

13. Switching to mobile-first employee communication

It is not a secret, employees spend more time on their phones than any other device at home or in the workplace. 

Currently, the workforce is made up of 50% of millennials and by 2025, that number will reach 75%. The one thing we all know about millennials, is that they are tech-savvy and mobile-oriented.

Therefore, if you want them to engage with the message you share, you have to adapt your internal communication to their smartphone habits. That means that leaders should now consider implementing mobile-first communication solutions

Moreover, with the gig economy, freelancers, more part-timers and flexible working locations, it has become a real struggle to reach all employees and deliver important messages at the right time. 

Therefore, leaders who enable mobile-first conversations within their workplace are much more likely to reach all their employees and increase engagement levels. 

14. Building a collaborative workplace culture

Good leadership communication helps people to connect and collaborate better, and it is the leaders' job to make that happen.

Effective communication keeps everyone on the same page. When people who work together know how to communicate clearly and respectfully, they can accomplish things more efficiently.

They work together as a unit, rather than as individuals with no clear game plan.

15. Making information easily accessible

The most common reason why important information gets lost in the workplace is because the information is not easily accessible. 

This doesn’t only create frustrations among employees but also has a very negative impact on employee engagement, motivation and productivity. 

Did you know that an average employee spends 2.5 hours every day searching for information?

leadership-communication-employee-productivity

Start supporting the #NoSearch Revolution within your organization to eliminate challenges related to employee productivity. 

16. Preventing miscommunications

Leaders are responsible for preventing miscommunication in the workplace. In a research, nearly 81% of employees indicated that miscommunication occurred in their organization very frequently, frequently, or occasionally. 

miscommunication-in-the-workplace

To work effectively, employees need accurate information from their leaders. When communications systems aren't in place, that information may not reach everyone who needs it. 

Employees may have to seek out the details that they are missing, which takes them away from other work and cuts down on their productivity. In other cases, employees might make mistakes because of lack of information.

17. Making employees brand ambassadors

Every organization has its interesting moments that should also be seen by the external world. As employees’ words are much more trusted than leaders’, companies are now trying to make their employees brand ambassadors

Employees who trust their leaders are willing to share their word both internally and externally. However, many organizations still don’t have tools that enable employees to easily share interesting information with the outside world

With modern employee communications solutions like Smarp, leaders can now enable their employees to share information externally and make them company's advocates

18. Measuring the effectiveness of leadership communications

Today, leaders are able to better understand how efficient their communication towards employees is. 

Luckily, modern employee communication solutions enable leaders to measure how effective their internal communications efforts are. 

Everything in Smarp, our employee communications app, is measurable which helps leaders quickly find out what content resonates with the employees. Therefore, they can make better communications decisions based on real data. 

The Cost of Poor Leadership Communication

Results of a major report “The State of Miscommunication: 6 Insights on Effective Workplace Communication,” revealed that one-half of employees have “great” or “excellent” conversations at work. The other half deemed their conversations as “mediocre,” “poor” or “bad.”

Here is a great quote from the sponsors of the same research.


“For many of us, the biggest barrier to having high-quality conversations is that we’re afraid to share what we’re really thinking and feeling. Being real is scary, but it’s the unreal conversations that should scare us, because they’re incredibly expensive.”


A survey with executives, managers and junior staff members conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Lucidchart found that communication breakdowns in the workplace have multiple downsides. 

When asked about the consequences of poor communication, respondents said:

  • 52% of employees said that they feel higher stress levels.
  • 44% of employees said that they failed to complete their projects.
  • 31% of employees said that they missed their performance goals.
  • 20% of employees said that they experience obstacles in innovation.
  • 18% of employees said that they lost new sales opportunities.

poor-leadership-communication-challenges

Make Leadership Communications More Effective With Smarp

Obviously, the cost of poor leadership communication is extremely high. 

However, the right internal communications technology can help leaders improve their communication efforts and eliminate the biggest leadership communication challenges. 

Smarp is an internal employee communication solution that helps leaders more efficiently reach every employee with the important messages. 

Why should you choose Smarp?

  1. Your employees can have personalized news feeds and engage more with the content that is relevant to their interests. 
  2. Leaders and managers can easily manage content, filter it, personalize it and therefore easily prioritize.
  3. Employees can easily share content both internally and externally.
  4. Employees can easily find the important information located on various internal tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, intranet or CRM.
  5. Active Directory integration enables you to simplify your user management.
  6. Our mobile-first approach boosts employee engagement as access to information is seamless on their employees’ mobile phones
  7. Users can get valuable insight on internal communication efforts based on real-time data and analytics. 

Schedule a Smarp demo to see how our solution is helping organizations across the world to boost their internal communications efficiency. 

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Written by

Kristina Martic

Kristina Martic

Digital Marketing and Employer Branding

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