A great leader is not someone who merely makes him/herself heard. A great leader is someone with the exceptional skill of inspiring followers to believe in his/her vision, values and ideals with the use of effective communication.
History bears ample examples that, from constructive leaderships which developed nations into world economic power houses to destructive leaderships that lead troupes to wage wars against other nations were all driven by one factor; skillful communication that convinced people to join the force, be it labor or the military.
A closer look at the legendary leaders from the past like Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher, to present day leaders like Barak Obama will show you that they all have one quality in common, which is their exceptional ability to address their audience in a manner that is inspiring and resounding. It is no secret that even the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler captivated millions of people in over 5,000 of his persuasive speeches, and to date, is remembered as one of the world’s most influential orators.
This explains the power of conviction. Leadership is not merely about authority or manipulation of control. There are several vital communication traits one must master to become a good leader, be it in politics, a corporate, social or community organization.
These qualities stretch beyond the basics of conveying a clear message which we all have been taught – pronunciation, enunciation, diction, body language, delivery, etc. However, what distinguishes an influential leader from just another chair is the ability relate to your audiences’ aspirations and give back to others. Focus on others rather than yourself for the message to be championed.
Let me share with you five such communication skills which I believe an astute leader should develop.
- Situational and contextual awareness
Get to know your audience and their aspirations. Be mindful that they are looking to you for guidance and direction. Understand your environment well and adapt your message accordingly with-out missing a beat.
- Learn to listen
Great communicators are not those who shout the loudest, but those who are able to keep quiet at the right time. You will be amazed at the amount of knowledge you will accumulate when you take a moment to listen to another.
- Have an open mind
Speech is only one small element of communication. Invite feed-back, collaboration and teamwork. Your role is not only to impress your own thoughts upon others, but also to allow others’ opinions to impact your conclusions.
- Build trust
Say what you mean. Do not communicate in riddles. Speak the truth even if the truth is ‘I am not in a position to divulge that information’. Your message will only be well received if it is well believed.
- Get personal
Communication is a two-way street. Focus on building dialogue versus delivering a monologue. Whether it is a round table discussion or an overflowing auditorium, attempt to make each and every person feel like they are being spoken to.
Communication and leadership go hand-in-hand. Let’s make those words count!
‘Toastmaster’ Nishani Pigera
Secretary – VirtusaPolaris CMB Toastmasters