Lesson 48: Communication Skills in Leadership

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 184–87


Objective

Each young woman will become a more effective leader by learning communication skills.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prepare for each young woman a copy of the handout at the end of this lesson.

  2. 2.

    Plan the introductory demonstration with the class president. This will require a blindfold, gag, cotton, and rope. Have the class president be prepared to express her feelings about the introductory experience at the conclusion of the lesson.

  3. 3.

    Assign several young women to discuss ways in which they have been a leader in their home, church, school, or community. Ask them to explain how these leadership experiences have blessed their own lives and the lives of others.

  4. 4.

    List on separate pieces of paper the scriptural references and quotation found in the third section of the lesson.

  5. 5.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Demonstration

At the beginning of the class, have the class president seated in the front of the room with a blindfold around her eyes, cotton in her ears, a gag across her mouth, and her hands and feet tied. Without any reference to her plight, begin the class by announcing some things you would like the class members to do. For example: “We have an important lesson. In order for you to learn it, I want all of you to line up your chairs in perfect rows. Mary, move into the chair next to Jane. Susan, sit alone in the back row. Everyone sit up straight in your chair with both feet on the floor. Be absolutely quiet.” Do not respond to any comments by class members. Continue to order them into place. Give the class no choice in their activities, and do not listen to or respond to any comments they make.

After this short demonstration, say, “I have the feeling that you don’t like the way I’m leading the class, so I’ll just turn the class over to the class president.”

She will be unable to do anything since she is bound and gagged. She might try to make sounds or motions, but the futility of her actions will soon become apparent. Remove the gag and other things from the class president.

Discussion

Ask the following questions:

  • Why didn’t you like my manner of conducting the class?

  • Why was the class president unable to lead us? (She couldn’t communicate with us.)

  • What does this demonstration show about leadership? (The right kind of communication is necessary. Leaders must be willing and able to communicate with those they lead.)

We Can All Be Leaders

Chalkboard discussion

Ask the class members to suggest some characteristics a leader requires. List their suggestions on the chalkboard. Their suggestions may be similar to the following:

    A Leader Is Someone Who—

  • Listens.

  • Doesn’t make unreasonable demands.

  • Communicates with us.

  • Allows others to participate.

  • Shows love and concern.

  • Doesn’t do only what she wants.

  • Is sensitive to others.

  • Why are these characteristics important for a leader to have?

  • What are some ways you can be a leader in your home? (Be an example, teach younger brothers and sisters, lead in family home evening.)

  • What are some ways you can be a leader in the Church?

  • What are some ways you can be a leader in your school or community?

Ask the assigned young women to share their experiences with leadership.

Point out that we will all be leaders in at least one of these areas, probably in all three. Acquiring leadership skills is important to all class members.

Communication Skills Are a Foundation for Effective Leadership

Teacher presentation

Refer to the leadership qualities listed on the chalkboard. Explain that all of these qualities are important for leaders, but the class will focus only on the area of communication skills. The introductory activity demonstrated two points about communication:

  1. 1.

    Negative or one-way communication is not good leadership.

  2. 2.

    In order to lead, you must be able to communicate.

Explain that good communication skills form a foundation for good leadership.

Ask the young women to define communication. Explain that it is a two-way process of exchanging ideas, attitudes, information, and feelings.

Scriptures

Distribute the following scriptural references and quotation. Have the young women read them aloud and find the keys for good communication. List these keys on the chalkboard.

Elder Jacob de Jager reported that following a long seminar, President Marion G. Romney asked him how he was going to teach all the inspired materials he had been given. Elder de Jager said, “I shall teach in such a way that everyone will understand.”

President Romney replied, “That’s not enough; you shall teach in such a way that no one will misunderstand” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1978, p. 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 67).

  • Speak the truth in love

  • Choose words easy to be understood

  • Use plainness

  • Avoid anger and evil speaking

  • Avoid offending

  • Speak kindly to avoid anger

  • Avoid misunderstanding

Discussion

Explain that besides being able to express our message clearly, we must be able to listen carefully to others. Discuss the following questions with the young women.

  1. 1.

    Why do we sometimes fail to hear what someone says to us? (We do not pay attention; our thoughts are on something else; we are thinking of a reply; we think we already know what the person is going to say; we disagree with what the person is saying; we don’t respect the person speaking; we are too busy talking.)

  2. 2.

    Why do we sometimes hear the words a person says but still not understand what she means? (Feelings are difficult to communicate; we may listen only for words, not feelings; words or phrases have different meanings to different people.)

Discussion

Discuss ways we can demonstrate that we are listening—facial expressions, body movements (such as nodding head), eye contact, asking the person if what we understand is what she really means.

Leadership Is Love in Action

Discussion

Explain that one of the Savior’s great messages was for us to love one another.

  • How does listening show love? (If you truly love a person, you will want to listen to her. Love enables us to listen with feeling.)

  • How do you feel when you know someone is genuinely trying to understand how you feel and what you mean?

Chalkboard

Remind the young women that their most important communications are their love and concern for others. Write the following two statements on the chalkboard:

“Love is the universal language.”

“Leadership is love in action.”

Ask the young women to discuss how these concepts could help them be better leaders.

Personal experience

Ask the class president to tell how she felt when she was gagged and bound. She may say that it was impossible to communicate, that she felt frustrated, that she was unable to serve in her calling. Have her contrast this with how happy she feels when she is able to communicate with class members and have them respond.

Teacher presentation

Explain that everyone will have opportunities to lead and serve others. We communicate our love and concern for others by the way we speak and listen. By applying good communication skills, we become better leaders and find greater joy in our service.

Lesson Application

Suggest that each young woman be aware of her communication skills during the coming week. Distribute the copies of the handouts you have prepared. Ask the young women to review the questions each evening during the next week.