Price Waterhouse Coopers recently implemented a global survey asking: “Which Leaders do CEO’s admire the most?”
The survey was spread over 60 countries and 7 regions. There were many different leaders nominated. And the thing that intrigues me the most is the glue that holds them together. Here is the top 10 list:
1. Winston Churchill
2. Steve Jobs
3. Mahatma Gandhi
4. Nelson Mandela
5. Jack Welch
6. Abraham Lincoln
7. Margaret Thatcher
8. Ronald Reagan
9. John F Kennedy
10. Bill Clinton and Napoleon Bonaparte (equal)
Qualities of these leaders include vision, motivation, persistence, innovation and transformational leadership. Yet, for me the key characteristic that brings these leaders together is their ability to communicate.
Communication enables leaders to motivate and inspire their people. Their skill is not just in how to speak, but how to connect:
· Emotionally (to motivate and inspire)
· With Clarity (to reduce misunderstandings)
· Flexibly (adapting to the needs of the audience)
Communication is a two way process. Surprising that. We speak and we listen. If only it were that simple.
Yet great leaders know that communication is far more complex than simply speaking and responding. They know it is their responsibility to get their message heard. To inspire and to motivate others. They have a relentless and unstoppable appetite for communicating.
If you are struggling to get your message heard, or not getting the levels of motivation and engagement you desire then it will be down to one of three things:
1) Lost credibility.
This can be as simple as getting your facts wrong. Or not being truthful and your actions are not equal to your message. Remember Tony Blair before and then after the Iraq War? Once your integrity has been violated, it’s incredibly difficult to win back your people.
2) Not Communicating Clearly Enough
The tool I use most often with my clients is VAK. V stands for Visual. How well have you painted the picture? Did you use visuals? Are you getting out to meet your teams? Even a simple 5 minute walk around before you get to your office can reap enormous benefits.
A stands for Audio. Have you give people the opportunity to discuss? To feedback? To ask you questions?
K stands for Kinaesthetic. These people want to feel involved in some way. Talking at them will not inspire these people. Openly sharing your feelings is so powerful a skill.
3) Not engaging others
Great leaders are aware of tapping into the emotional needs of others. Consider what stories you are telling? Are you really sharing a part of the ‘humble’ you or focusing on facts, figures and direction?
The top 10 most admired leaders have learnt these tricks of the trade. They know just how important communication is. The words they uttered were inspirational:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” (John F Kennedy)
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people… ” (Abraham Lincoln)
Now, many of us lack the skills of these great communicators. We fear getting up in public. But these skills can be learnt and developed. There are many books, programmes, CDs to help you. Great communication is the cornerstone of inspiring, long lasting leadership. So take action today.