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How well does your boss communicate?

Boston --The results of a recent survey show that a majority of professionals across many industries rate their boss average to poor when it comes to communication skills.

"A wise man once said, 'every time you open your mouth you're auditioning for leadership,'" said Suzanne Bates, president and CEO of Bates Communications. "Your job as the boss is to communicate. You can't do the work of the company. You have to persuade others to do it, and to be successful you have to speak with clarity and win trust. "

A whopping 91% of those surveyed said effective communication is “critical” to leadership, yet less than one third said that there were enough true voices of leadership in their organizations.

The findings are part of a confidential, online survey of 293 professionals conducted jointly by the executive coaching and research firms Bates Communications and J. Patterson Associates. The survey found fewer than half of participants rated their boss as effective in inspiring others, sharing critical information, or even leading a meeting.

“This is a wake-up call for bosses everywhere,” said Bates. “Running meetings and sharing critical information with employees are essential day-to-day activities for a leader. Far too few of those surveyed say their bosses speak in a way that motivates or inspires them to action.”

The online survey was conducted in March 2004, during a two-week period. Participants from a variety of industries and jobs across the country were asked to size up their boss’ communication skills inside and outside their companies.

Other findings include:

Only half of those surveyed said they admire their boss’s public speaking skills

49% say their boss is average or weak when communicating at a human level

Only 50% said their boss listens well to comments and suggestions

While motivating and inspiring others is considered a cornerstone of leadership, more than one-third of professionals surveyed said they’d be surprised or even shocked if the head of their company was to speak and clearly articulate a direction.

The survey included both multiple choice and open-ended questions. Recommendations fell into these six categories:

Share more information

Keep it real


Know the organization and its people

Walk the walk

Delegate – and trust

According to Bates, “Bosses need to know how to project a voice of leadership.” She adds, “Without it, they cannot lead their companies through the challenges of a competitive marketplace.” 

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