“Communication skills” has remained at the top of Training magazine’s “Priority Skills for Leadership Development” ranking, for the past three years. In 2018, it ranked first. In 2017 and 2019 it ranked second.

It’s likely to stay there.

Communications skills not only make employees more effective within the company, but it provides a base for all types of learning and development. We find that organizations that focus on communication skills training, have better leadership development outcomes.

It’s where hard skills meet soft skills in training and development. Communications skills training can cover the most basic skills—like articulation and posture—and it also dovetails with headier skills like emotional intelligence and giving feedback, where self-awareness and empathy come into play.

Another area where we see communications skills making a positive impact is in diversity and inclusion. In our women’s leadership and cross-generational leadership programs, analyzing communication style is central to the engagement. Women in the workplace have been conditioned to not advocate for themselves and to stand down while men speak up in meetings. In multi-generational environments, you can face a Tower of Babel situation when Generation X meets Generation Z. So we spend a lot of time exploring communications preferences and differences.

While Training‘s Annual Leadership Development Survey shows some movement with emerging and evolving training techniques, communication skills holds its near-top position with “coaching others” as priorities. Interestingly, “emotional intelligence skills” jumped up from sixth to third this year over 2018. Emotional intelligence can manifest in improved interpersonal communication.

We’ve tailored communications workshops—Presentations Skills 101 and Advanced Presentations Skills—for large and small companies. The feedback from participants has been favorable. Bosses have also told us they see big differences in performance after a communication skills engagement. Of all the training you can do, communication skills shows the most immediate results.