Communication is a powerful force in business. Whether you are bidding, planning, executing, negotiating or selling; the ability to communicate well determines whether you will be successful in your work. A school of thought exists that states that leaders are born – not made. I disagree with this completely. Effective leadership & communication is often summarised and described as being intangible, almost magical quality. Think of quotes such as “Her presence could be felt across the room”, or “the atmosphere was electric in anticipation of the speaker”. These convey an attitude that would have us believe that if we weren’t born with the name ‘Jobs, Obama or Mandela’ then we can never achieve greatness in communication. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In this article, let us break effective communication down into the sum of its parts. As science has shown us; if we can deeply understand how a phenomenon works, then we can replicate and use those principles elsewhere. There is nothing unattainable or mythological about good communication.
Whether we talk about sporting legends, war veterans or political titans – you will note that they are all very sincere when they talk about something they care about. Sincerity evokes importance, seriousness, and trust. Soldiers do not follow clowns into battle. Humour has its place in many arenas, but this should not be the defining theme of your communication.
2. Two-way respect
Respected leaders show respect to their followers. This is a chicken and egg scenario as we cannot be sure of which causes which, but my personal opinion is that people respond positively to leaders that show them courtesy and allow them to save face. Consider the following quote:
“Leaders who make it a practice to draw out the thoughts and ideas of their subordinates and who are receptive even to bad news will be properly informed. Communicate downward to subordinates with at least the same care and attention as you communicate upward to superiors.” — L. B. Belker
3. Knocking down barriers
When a national treasure passes away, it is common for tributes to pour in to news outlets or social media from friends, family, colleagues and fans alike. What strikes me about these ‘national treasures’ is how international their fan-base actually is. What does this tell us about good leaders? It shows that good leaders are effective at communicating across all kinds of barriers, be it caused by cultural differences or even language. When faced with someone who does not speak their language – an effective communicator could quickly break through that wall, for example by using the translation services of The Big Word. National boundaries are merely a technicality to an accomplished business leader!