Communication skills should be a fundamental part of leadership development. Effective communication breaks down barriers between leaders and those they are leading. Today’s emerging leaders have grown up with technology. It is common to spot of group of young people standing together, but all interacting with others on their phones. They are connected physically but alone with their phone.

Texting has overtaken talking on cell phones. This lack of voiced conversations is changing a young person’s ability to communicate. These young leaders are lacking in skills such as how to have a conversation and read cues from voice intonations, emotional expressions and body language. They lack listening skills that are vital to effective leadership.

To develop young leaders, we must create an environment that encourages conversation and communication. Involve youth in collaborative experiences, teamwork and community service. Young leaders require instruction on developing interpersonal skills including empathy, cooperation and conflict resolution. Teach emerging leaders to say what they mean or want clearly, so that others understand. They must give thought to not only what they want to express, but also how they want to express it. And finally, teach young leaders how to listen. If they fail at listening, he or she will fail as a leader.

Created for and published in Children’s Ministry Magazine. www.childrensministry.com. Reprinted by permission. Copyright Group Publishing, All Rights Reserved.