I was picking up my son, Ethan, from a birthday party when he was in about fourth or fifth grade. It was at a laser tag place, where you play laser tag and then you go into a separate room for pizza, cake, and the birthday boy opens gifts. So I am picking him up, I go into that room and I see Ethan sitting at a table by himself, which was pretty odd behavior for him.

We got in the car, I asked him how the party was, and he goes on and on, telling me how much fun he had, as he’s telling me all about the laser tag. And when he’s done, I say, “Well hey, I noticed you were sitting at a table by yourself. Tell me about that.” And he says, “Well, mom, I was sitting with the rest of the kids, but they started texting each other. So I got up and moved.”

During this time in fourth or fifth grade, Ethan didn’t have a cell phone, but a lot of his friends did. And it turns out at that party, possibly the novelty at this age of having a phone, they were sending text messages to each other. Ethan got frustrated, and sat by himself. Of course, as a mom, I use this as a teaching point to both Ethan and Reese, who was probably in about second or third grade, and also in the car with us. I said, “Hey kids, listen, we need to have the basic skills of technology. But if we take two people in the future who have the same skill in technology, who is the one who’s going to get ahead? Who’s the one who’s most likely to earn a scholarship, get into that college they want to, earn the job, earn the promotion, or get what they want in life – it’s going to be the person who has the greater communication skills.”

And guess what? All these years later, the data is in.

In fact, it’s one of the top emerging trends that we’re seeing in the workplace today. It is about not only developing, but elevating, communication skills. And interestingly enough, I was just sharing that one of the top three rules for women in leadership this year is to elevate your communication skills. So you as a leader, I want to shift and broaden this a little bit more for you, because you know you’ve got to elevate your communication skills.

It is what is going to make you an effective leader. However, we need to expand and broaden to offering the same kind of training for your employees. Your employees are in desperate need, and what we’re finding is that organizations who actually invest in training communication skills with their employees, they are a more attractive company to hire top talent; it is a great tool for retention, because employees want to be working at a company that say, “Hey, we care about you. Here’s some training that we’re going to offer you.”

It also raises the bar of communication internally, making an organization that much more successful. And when we bring elevated communication training to our frontline employees, and we really enhance their skills, you are filling the leadership pipeline. You are finding your successors before they’re even necessarily leadership ready. So this is a win across the board for the employee, for you as a leader, and for the organization overall.

So where can you really dig in and offer communication training? I had a client of mine who shared that they recently hired a bunch of interns, so those that are pretty fresh out of college, and there is a huge gap in communication because most of theirs has been across email, across text, across message boards. So they need this foundational training. We also have the older generation that is used to communicating in one fashion, very myopic in their thinking.

So we need training for all generations. We need cross-training. How do we get people to communicate effectively with each other? This is the challenge to you as a leader – where, how, and not just bringing in online, quick, easy communication training. Are you taking this seriously? It is one of the top trends, and I’m going to tell you, it is not a trend in the true sense where it’s going to go away; this is here to stay. So bring that elevated communication training in for you and for your team, and you’re going to see everyone raise the bar!