One of the most powerful tools a leader has at his or her disposal is the ability to communicate well. How many times have you seen the battle speech in Braveheart? Or, Dr. King’s, I have a dream? Communication matters! I’m no William Wallace or Martin Luther King, but that doesn’t matter. Leaders must learn to communicate well.
When you and I communicate well, several good things happen…
Others can see our vision. Leadership is about taking people somewhere. Chances are good it’s a place people haven’t been before. When we communicate well, we can take people there with our words. We must help them see it so clearly in their mind’s eye, they will want to go there.
Great communication inspires. If what we say resonates with others, there’s a chance they’ll embrace the message. Poor communication has the opposite effect. My friend, Nancy Duarte, has an outstanding book on communications entitled, Resonate. I highly recommend it.
Our credibility increases. This is true, but maybe not for the reason you would first think. Our credibility doesn’t go up just because we can communicate. The fact we can communicate well indicates that we care enough about the message to internalize it, to prepare and to have honed the skill of communication. NOTE: If you use a manuscript when you present, ALWAYS memorize the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes. These unscripted moments will help the believability of your message.
We model good communication for others. One of the things we’re supposed to do is develop other leaders. It’s very difficult for us to challenge and encourage them on the importance of effective communications, or anything else, if we don’t model the desired behavior.
What can leaders do to improve their communication skills? There are many things we can do. I’ll write more about some of them in the future. Today, I’ll share what I believe to be the most important thing a leader can do in this arena:
Become a student of great communications.
Once you and I make this decision, the ideas regarding how to become a better communicator are virtually unlimited – you could read books on great communications; take a course or two or three; get a coach; learn to tell stories; use props; practice – practice – practice; etc.
Every minute you invest becoming a better communicator will pay huge leadership dividends. If you haven’t already made the decision, today is the best day to begin the journey that could transform your leadership forever.[GLS_Shield]
What do you do to improve your communication skills?