Sunday, July 11, 2010

Effective Leadership Requires Effective Communication

Leaders whose organisations have an exciting and meaningful vision, as well as a clearly defined direction, engage their employees hearts as well as their minds, (Joan Lloyd, 2008).

In her article, Lloyd (2008) mentions that, “great communicators tend to be excellent leaders. They are easier to follow – people know where they are going, why they want to get there and what they have to do to move toward the goal” (p.8)

Unfortunately communication is a gift that we often waste in business. Excuses are made that either there isn’t enough time to explain things properly or to check that we have been understood; or we simply assume that since the message we’re giving is clear enough to us, it should be clear enough to everyone else.

Many people exasperate the communication problem by using electronic communication to replace face-to-face discussions, often in the belief that it avoids conflict and gets things done quicker – it’s preferred, as it takes the emotion out of the process.

Leaders will always prefer face-to-face communication and will always check that the intended message has been received. They constantly encourage two-way communication and are excellent attentive listeners.

Lloyd’ article highlights four tips that today’s leaders should follow to improve their communication, company culture and organisational performance;

1. Have a meaningful vision and mission and reinforce it in everything you do. This means ensuring your vision is shared and owned by the organisation. A test of true strategic ownership is when each employee can explain the corporate strategy and how they influence the outcome through what they do on a daily basis. Unfortunately it’s rare to find employees who know the answers to both questions, (see the article, ‘How good is your strategy for 2010?’ dated 4th March 2010).

2. Keep priorities clear. Keep the organisation updated as priorities change and the reasons behind it. The organisation will react and support changing priorities if they understand why the changes are taking place.

3. Explain your intentions. Don’t assume that everyone understands your actions and why you say and do the things you do. Often it is these assumptions that cause demotivation within an organisation. Explain why you do the things you do and this will transfer into understanding, trust and improved performance.

4. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Don’t say things you don’t mean; don’t create false expectations and always give honest feedback.

Effective communication is one of the key characteristics that distinguish good leaders from the thousands of ‘wannabe’ leaders in today’s business world. If you’re unsure how effective your communication skills are, Debbe Kennedy highlights three common mistakes leaders make when communicating;

1. Poor leaders often talk at people instead of with them;
2. Poor leaders say what they want without considering what employees want to hear;
3. Poor leaders use too much head-talk and not enough heart-talk (2007,19).

It’s important for effective leaders to want to know if they are good communicators, and therefore it isn’t surprising that they take the opportunity to ask their peers and subordinates on a regular basis; and listen and learn from their responses,.


Greene, C., Cortes, M.A., Cheung, C. and Kennedy, D. (2007). What are some communication mistakes that leaders make? Communication World. Vol. 24, Issue 5, p.19.

Lloyd, J. (2008). Good Leaders Focus on Clarity in Communication. The Receivables Report, Vol. 23, Issue 2, p.8-10.


  1. I can't appreciate more on the significance of effective communication with my few years of experience in the industry.

    It doesn't matter how great strategies are , unless the whole organisation/team live and breath the common goal, the execution of the strategy falters. So, the key lies to effective and continuous two-way communication.

  2. Excellent advice for leadership. When communications are done as stated, with a real heart for the people involved, the staff is more likely to engage, feel respected, and add value to achieving the organization's objectives. Thanks for this advice, few leaders will achieve lasting success without applying your principals of communication.

  3. Excellent advice. I have seen many leaders constantly loosing key employees from their organizations and still not understanding the value of communication.