Communicate Like a Leader

Connecting to Inspire, Coach, and Get Things Done

 

Do you communicate with power?

 

Leadership is intertwined with communication. It’s a critical skill and it’s becoming more and more important in a world of social media and constant news cycles.

If you want to be an excellent leader, you simply must become an excellent communicator.

Dianna Booher is one of my favorites in the area of communication. She’s the CEO of Booher Research and she’s authored a staggering 47 books, including her latest Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done. She works with organizations to help them communicate clearly and with leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence.

I recently spoke to Dianna about her latest work.

 

Leadership Tip: Ineffective leaders communicate in one direction, by telling.

 

The Signs of an Ineffective Leader

What are some of the signs of an ineffective leader’s communications?

Ineffective leaders tend to place great trust in their own expertise and control. Their thinking seems to follow the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So most of their communication is one-directional—telling.  By contrast, more effective leaders like to get input from several trusted sources. They listen with an open mind and weigh facts and ideas before rushing to accept or reject these ideas as valid. The majority of their communication is collaborative.

Ineffective leaders often communicate with vague abstractions so as to avoid offense and blame on sensitive issues. More effective leaders, however, understand when an ounce of specificity is worth a ton of abstraction.

 

“Effective leaders understand an ounce of specificity is worth a ton of abstraction.” -Dianna Booher

 

While ineffective leaders may communicate directly and frequently (good habits), they often focus on controlling processes and people. Consequently, these leaders often come across as manipulative and uncaring. In addition to direct and frequent communication, more effective leaders are tactful, compassionate, and passionate when it comes to people.

Although ineffective leaders would probably never see their communication lacking in this way, they focus on detail—the “how” of a job, doing things right. More effective leaders communicate the bigger picture—the “why” of a job. And communicating that “why” to team members tends to inspire them to do their best work on the right things.

 

“What we’ve got here is  a failure to communicate.” -Cool Hand Luke

 

What to Do about that Micromanaging Boss

Leaders Never Expect Logic Alone to Persuade

This is a guest post by Dianna Booher. Diana is the bestselling author of 46 books with nearly 4 million copies sold. Her latest book is What More Can I Say?: Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It.

Logic and Emotion

Peers expect you to build logical business cases, of course. Just don’t expect logical arguments to win people over to your way of thinking. Even in large corporations that focus on very logical approaches to strategy, culture, and analysis of data, change happens because the leaders find a way to help people see problems or solutions in ways that influence their emotions––not just their reasoning.

Research overwhelmingly confirms that people base buying decisions on emotion, and then support them with logic.  Or to put it as eloquently as poet Richard Bach did: “Compelling reason will never convince blinding emotion.”

 

“Compelling reason will never convince blinding emotion.” -Richard Bach

 

Obviously, an emotional appeal may be misused to manipulate others. In such situations, the very fabric of influence becomes flawed. But used with wisdom and integrity, emotional appeals can have tremendous power to sway people to change for the better. Here’s how:

 

Speak to the Heart

People often cannot hear logical reasons for change until they work through emotional issues surrounding that change.  In What More Can I Say?: Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It, I elaborate further on these emotional issues surrounding a logical need for change:

  • the message itself
  • the way the message is phrased
  • the character and personality of the leader
  • the listener’s interactions with the leader
  • the actual setting (physical, emotional, timing)

Analogies, illustrations, and metaphors matter a great deal in your phrasing.  Body language communicates caring, confidence, competence—or incompetence. Where and how you deliver the message determines if it hits a receptive or raw nerve.

Whether you’re talking about change, political campaigns, or charity, when you want to move people to action, speak to evoke emotion—to inspire, to call out their best, to appeal to a cause, to stand united.  To see how well emotional appeals work, look no further than the streets during a crisis.

 

Calm the Emotional Reaction of Fear

“That’s too hard.” “I can’t master this job.” “I can’t change that habit.”