Effective leaders are also effective communicators. Research with 200 successful leaders highlights they all have similar communication patterns. They seek out new information, feedback and ideas from others and have the skills of persuasion [i].
A fabulous example of this is the well-known Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric. It is quoted that of all his management secrets his “Uncanny ability to communicate, to engender an enthusiasm in employees” may well have been his greatest.
So what are the effective tools and considerations for being a good communicator? I’ve given you five below. Remember if you need a good coach to keep you accountable and assist with your development… – you know where to come!
- Use a blank journal to record your progress, reflecting on your successes and challenges as you go.
- Mark down some milestones or goals of your planned achievements.
1) What’s my ‘Unique Brand’?
What do you want your personal brand of communication to be known for? How do you want people to think of you as a communicator?
One of the most important things to evaluate is your credibility. Being able to influence people and communicate well begins with how credible people believe you to be [ii]. The other considerations are your reputation of being trustworthy, your intelligence and knowledge on the subject matter.
2) How do I get some Charismatic Expression?
We all know the term charismatic; certain leaders such as Bill Clinton, Barak Obama or movie stars like Sean Connery and George Clooney are described as being charismatic or having a magnetic effect. Charisma has been described as a leadership quality. But Bernard Bass, leadership scholar says “Charisma has come to mean anything from celebrity to superman status, it has become an overused cliché for a strong, attractive and inspiring personality.”
So how do you develop charisma?
Studies by social scientists have found that charismatic people apparently use a higher level of animation; they speak more quickly, have clearer pronunciation of their words, smile more and use more body language with their heads and bodies[iii]. They also reach out and touch or make physical contact in greetings and show warmth and friendship.
- Practice with a topic you are excited about in front of a mirror or a friend and ask for feedback
- Video yourself and review to start building your non-verbal expression. Ensure it feels authentic to you.
3) Give me some of that ‘Powerful Language’
Powerful leaders use powerful language to bring visions to life and create a shared purpose. No one can forget the magnitude of Martin Luther King Junior’s words “ I have a dream”.
Make your language more dramatic, colourful, meaningful, and bring abstract ideas to life. Certain words give power and strength to a speech and can help to build your reputation as being self-confident.
- When discussing an idea bring it to life using metaphors to describe things and by telling stories
- Relate experiences you have been through, offer quotations from famous people and use clever slogans.
4) I want some Positivity
By nature we are attracted to positive people; they are the ones that make you feel good and their world is about opportunity and possibility. Leadership is no different. We are attracted towards positive leaders not the ones who are negative and deplete our self-esteem. So decide what type of leader you want to be when you are working on your Unique Brand.
- Use positive language such as ‘will, can, able’ as opposed to negative language where possible
- Be realistic about the difficulties you are facing but don’t linger on them
- Plan the way you want to communicate to your audience even during the bad times
- Find role models that you admire and notice their positive attributes.
5) Do I have to ask for and take Feedback?
Yes! In developing your ability to communicate more effectively it is essential to understand what your audience wants from you; whether they be direct reports, peers, customers, suppliers or the senior management. Understanding their view on your communication effectiveness, style, tone and approach is key to learning what you can do to improve as well as building relationships.
- Ask some of your stakeholders whose opinion you respect to give you feedback on your communication style, whether that be written or verbal. Let them in to the fact that you are working on improving this skill
- Actively try on some of their ideas to see how it fits with you and your authenticity.
[i] Bernard M. Bass (1990)
[ii] Krapels & Arnold (1997)
[iii]‘The Leadership Challenge”, Kouzes and Posner, Jossey-Bass (2003)