Today I’m doing part three on nine ingredients that cannot be separated from quality leadership. Like salt and pepper or ketchup and mustard—they just go together. Any leader without them is incomplete or unhealthy. Since my blog posts are about leading the next generation, I’m hopeful these short articles will help you deepen your effectiveness as a leader, parent, coach or teacher.
Today, I want to talk about communication. I don’t think you can lead well without discovering how to communicate well. Certainly, there have been leaders who aren’t good speakers. They aren’t eloquent or poised on the platform—and they still lead. I am talking, however, about the ability to communicate a clear idea or vision and get others to understand it and to help execute it. Leaders must do this.
Communication is fundamental to leadership. If you cannot get an idea across with authentic, believable passion—you won’t be able to move a team to act. You may be an entrepreneur but you won’t be a leader. You’ll take the journey alone. Former president Gerald Ford once said that if he could do his career over again, he’d go back to school and learn to become a better communicator. He recognized it as paramount to getting anything accomplished.
Most people admit they’re not good communicators. Due to low emotional intelligence, or poor verbal skills or simply fear—they freeze up when attempting to get an important idea across to others. In fact, the fear of public speaking continues to be the number one fear in the U.S., even above death. This amazes me. (As Jerry Seinfeld once said, that means most would rather be the corpse at a funeral than the one giving the eulogy.)
In any case, to be an effective communicator you simply need to execute a few practices:
- Start strong—know your point.
- Target one central theme or idea.
- Use clear, simple language.
- Employ metaphors or pictures.
- Speak to the heart not just the head.
- Have a clear objective: what do you want listeners to do?
Let me ask you a question. Whether you are speaking to your own children or a team or a youth group or a classroom of students—do you practice these elements? Try them today.