How great leaders communicate

There’s nothing like an ambitious title for a blog and this one feels right up there along with 300 odd words on ‘How to do nuclear fusion’. But, here goes.

When you think about great historical figures who communicate well people like Churchill come to mind. A nice turn of phrase, consistent messaging, positive reinforcement, presence, and no little preparation resulted in a reputation as a great orator – though, interestingly, no one remembers his alleged struggles to overcome a speech impediment. Historians are divided as to whether he had a lisp, stuttered or simply liked a ‘loaded pause’.

Today’s leaders have it harder than he did in many ways given the number of communications channels they can use there and the expectation of delivering more. Some leaders, for good or ill, thrive on the immediacy of Twitter for example – Trump – while others are probably blissfully unaware as to what goes out under their name.

once upon a time

I want to communicate
What never changes though are the leaders – and I’m moving on to include business leaders and managers here – who are really good at communicating do it naturally. They have a distinctive voice; take every opportunity to communicate; are authentic (you can believe that what they’re saying is from them and represents their values); use wit and humour when appropriate; and take advice and feedback from those around them to improve. Probably most important though is their desire to communicate; they genuinely want to do it. Try media training someone who has no desire to talk to the media. It can be very painful.

For those who aren’t natural communicators, communication is a tougher job but no one says they need to be great orators. If they follow the same rules that come more naturally to the good communicator then why shouldn’t a bad communicator become a good communicator? And surely it’s worth the effort. For CEOs or senior managers, I would have said it’s probably the most important part of their job.

Easy enough? Now about fusing together those pesky light nuclei…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *