“You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that's assault, not leadership."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
There is a demand these days for leaders to become better communicators. From CEOs to heads of state, people want their leaders to be better at communicating ideas, initiatives and policies. All of this comes on the heels of a generation severely lacking in many of the basic communication skills. Leaders cannot afford the luxury of dismissing solid communication skills as a necessary personal attribute. Why?
Because the heart of leadership is 99.9999% communication. Leaders are charged with being the trustworthy voice and face of their enterprise. Whether you are the CEO of a fortune 500 or the leader of a non-profit, your ability to communicate effectively is the most critical skillset in your leadership toolbox.
Leaders have three basic duties they perform in their role through communication, each of which can have an enormous impact on those they lead.
These three duties are:
2. Demonstration and
If you’re a leader or aspire to become one, you’ll want to read on.
When you lead others, you are in the enviable position of directing the level of engagement of employees, clients, vendors, supporters, and stakeholders within your organization. A leader’s ability to expand (or contract) varying spheres of engagement, inclusion or exclusion allows them flexibility in communicating vision and most importantly opportunity. Leaders are facilitators of opportunity. The opportunity to learn more, to become part of an initiative, to become more deeply enmeshed in the strategy of growth and development of an organization are prizes or high value and praise.
Through strategic communication and effective presentation, a leader can build consensus, elevate awareness and drive massive culture change by inviting those they lead to seize the opportunity to become part of something bigger that themselves.
When you lead consider communicating the invitation to share and participate in your vision a primary role of your position.
In recent years, many organizations sought to “right their ship” coming out of the deep economic recession. Enterprise initiatives to increase engagement among employees who had their wages frozen, advancement stifled, and training suspended stumbled out of the gate because the concept of employee engagement was misunderstood by leadership.
Eagerly seeking an instant fix to a problem created by a culture systemically rife with platitudes but little gratitude, organizations missed a critical element of engagement and culture change. They are both top-down driven processes. Employees don’t want to hear about culture change, they want to see the culture change. They want to see the change happen in leadership first so that they will feel supported in their efforts to join the change.
When a leader uses demonstration to communicate to an organization, they allow their actions to speak louder than their words. They inspire by leading from the front.
The next time you have a leadership opportunity, think about how you show up. Are you demonstrating the type of leadership character that will inspire others? Will they be proud to follow you? It has been said that you cannot not communicate. The leader who communicates through demonstration knows how to exploit this rule for the benefit of all.
Some leaders have a distorted view of their role. They see leadership as an entitlement instead of as the obligation it truly is. Inspiration is a positive human relations activity. If you do not understand this, you will never be an effective leader. You cannot lift yourself up by beating someone else down. An effective leader will not ask others to do something they would not be willing to do their self.
Leaders are visionaries. They have the ability and the freedom to not only dream “what if” they have the license to put “what if” into play. Using solid communication skills, strategically placed, these leaders can inspire others to join them on their incredible journey. They can attract others to set sail with them to worlds beyond the current event horizon. By effectively communicating their vision of life beyond the “what if”, they can attract investors, workers, vendors and a myriad of stakeholders to unilaterally take the leap of faith only dreamers believe in. Leaders can use their vision to inspire others. When you inspire others, you lift them up.
Great leaders learn how to effectively communicate their impassioned vision to inspire organization and individuals to dream bigger, reach higher and achieve greater than they could dream of individually.
THE VIEW FROM THE TOP
It’s not easy leading organizations and people. Today, there are more channels to control, more opportunities to misspeak, and more subtleties to language than ever before. But a great leader recognizes the nature of our current communications environment as a controllable element of their role. An effective leader learns to use communication with purpose to manage the flow of invitations to inside access, demonstrate how they can lead from the front through their actions, and strategically craft communications that illustrate the attractive and fascinating possibilities within their vision.
When you become leader, you can do this too.
Thanks for your support as a reader of my blog and I eagerly welcome any comments on how you’re thinking about achieving the possibility of your promise. Also, I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for future posts in this blog on a topic near and dear to you in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz