Leading With Communication

You won’t find too many excellent leaders who are poor communicators. Some are better than others when presenting in front of large groups and some are better in one-on-one situations but overall, excellent leadership requires effective communication.

Effective communication means speaking in such a way that what you’re saying is crystal clear, easy to understand and hard to forget. Truly effective communicators accept 100% responsibility for the clarity of their message. They don’t blame others for misunderstandings.

Just so we’re all on the same page here I want to make it clear that I’m talking about face-to-face communication. The verbal kind, you know, like speaking with people.

Some leaders believe they can use technology as a substitute for personal communication. They blog, use their organization’s intranet, newsletters, etc. That’s all good because it helps support a message and sometimes repetition is required. But it’s a mistake to think those tools will ever take the place of face-to-face personal communication. 

There is no media that can communicate a leader’s intensity and passion as well as personal, human contact. When a leader exits the relatively safe confines of their office to personally speak with members of their team it automatically adds weight to whatever it is they are saying.

Leaders who are good communicators speak with absolute clarity, they limit the use of buzzwords, jargon and corporate-speak. Their actions match their words, if they say they will do it, then they do it. That consistency adds significance to every statement they make.

It is important for a leader to be an effective communicator when speaking to large groups but it’s vital for leaders to be effective when speaking one-on-one.

So, excellent leaders speak well but….Authentic Servant Leaders speak well AND listen well. They know that speaking is only part of communicating; effective communication is a two-way street and if you never stop to listen you are not communicating well, no matter how good of a speaker you might be. 

Most people merely listen to respond, Authentic Servant Leaders listen to understand. They linger on the words being spoken until they understand the intent of the speaker. If they are not certain they fully understand what was said they ask for clarification. They don’t guess and they don’t assume, they ask.

The very best communicators are incredible listeners. It seems that by truly, completely listening to what other people are saying they always know just what to say in return and exactly how to say it. 

Perhaps the true secret to speaking well is listening even better!

5 thoughts on “Leading With Communication

  1. Excellent advice, Mr Keating. “Crystal clear, easy to understand and hard to forget” is exactly what good and authentic communication is all about. I also agree that blogs, newsletters, etc. – no matter how good they may be – do not substitute genuine person-to-person communication. Thank you very much for sharing this.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It’s truly impossible to lead well and communicate poorly. I think a fair number of people underestimate how critical communication skills really are.

  2. This article succinctly lists the primary advantages that spoken communication will always have over written communication. The listener is able to indicate a lack of understanding. The speaker can verify understanding. This is powerful. If you have the opportunity to speak this way and listen this way, why would you not take full advantage of that?

    1. Thanks Michael, sadly the reason some leaders don’t take advantage of direct communication is that they are what I call, Lazy Leaders. They are unwilling to invest the effort to truly lead their people.

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