Leadership Communication


You’ve built a successful business, now what? 

You’ve got to sustain it.

And a big part of ensuring a successful future is training the next generation of leaders.

Articulating a vision = leadership.
Rallying support = leadership.
Steadying morale = leadership.
Acknowledging excellence = leadership.
Building and sustaining a business = it’s all leadership.

And while leaders have a long list of important attributes, one ability is central to all others—communication.

The utmost essential key to great leadership is communication.
— Paul Fabbi, Ph.D.

According to A.J. Towler, an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, communication not only cultivates an innovative and rewarding culture, it also achieves tangible business objectives like “profit, high return on investment, customer satisfaction, efficiency, and productivity.” [2]  

Given the importance of communication to effective leadership, here are 5 top tips for leadership communication:

1. Don’t wait, communicate!

Leadership isn’t executed from the shadows. Leaders are front and center. They are visible, and they are always communicating. Informal conversations with employees. Discussions with customers. Idea-sharing sessions. Explanations to investors and shareholders. Formal announcements and state of the company addresses. Status updates. Leaders are constantly communicating. Don’t make communication an infrequent occurrence. Instead, seize opportunities to communicate whenever possible, and build it into your routine.

2. Be purposeful and direct.

Ambiguity kills organizations. When your audience is left to decipher your message or take-aways, the uncertainty spawns personal and institutional paralysis. Instead, communicate with clarity and say what you mean. Not only will your audience appreciate your directness, they will also better receive your message.

3. Adapt to your audience.

Different audiences need to hear things differently. Consider the viewpoint of each audience you address and how they are likely to perceive your message. For example, if your company gains a new equity investor, the announcement to your management team will be different than your announcement to your product engineers. A one-size-fits all approach doesn’t work for leadership communication.

4. Listen.

It’s been said countless times, but it bears repeating—listening is the first step to effective communication and leadership. Not only will it help you best frame your eventual message, but listening also encourages others in your organization to speak up. When you respect the give-and-take of communication, it’s a win-win.

5. Tell stories.

Who doesn’t love a good story? We relate to the characters, envision the setting, and internalize the message. Business storytelling is also the best way to engage an audience and convey complex ideas in a memorable and impactful way. Stories can be vivid examples or short narratives. They don’t need to be long to be effective; in fact, long stories run the risk of losing the message along the way.

Instill the importance of communication and provide purposeful professional development to advance that skillset at all levels of your org chart and you'll see the boost in leadership you're looking for.

 [1] Towler, A.J. (2003). Effects of charismatic influence training on attitudes, behavior, and performance. Personnel Psychology, 56(2), 363-381.
 [2] Fabbi, P. (2013). The effects of charismatic communication training on leader communication effectiveness. Ed.D. Dissertations. 54.