7 Reasons Why the Ability to Communicate is an Essential Skill for Leaders

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They say a week is a long time in politics and this last week in Federal politics in Australia is certainly living proof of this. What struck me as the last week has unfolded is the difference in Prime Minister Turnbull’s communication style compared to Tony Abbott.

I have no intention in entering any kind of political commentary rather I want to draw leadership lessons from what has transpired as it relates to the need for leaders to be highly effective communicators. The tried and true adage, “True communication is the response I get” remains very relevant. Leaders, I believe, cannot hold anyone else responsible other than themselves for what is communicated, how it is communicated, and how people respond.

Here are seven immediate differences that I have immediately noticed in the new Prime Minister’s communication style and approach:

  • Stature –  He stands straight, strong eye contact, radiates confidence, and while he owns the space, he engages in a way that people say makes them feel like he is speaking only to them.  
  • Optimism – For the first time in many months words such as future, focused, innovative, ideas, adaptable, capable, are becoming the norm replacing the adversarial and accusative language that has featured for so long. There are few people who will follow a pessimistic leader for long.
  • Cause and Effect –  Messages are appropriate and considered – what will this message cause people to do and as a result what will the effect will? Popular press is reporting that people are feeling more confident.
  • Articulate Words are carefully chosen and their delivery is considered. Even when differing he is polite and firm at the same time ensuring he shifts focus back to the key message or point being reinforced or argued.
  • Timing and co-ordination – Dissemination of key messages is well co-ordinated and their timing is such that they deliver maximum impact.
  • Unambiguous – Message content is relevant, focused and clearly expressed, and his communication is accompanied by a call to action.
  • Check what meaning is being assigned to the message – Leaving aside the media, reaction from the wider Australian population is being monitored and content adjusted to stay focused and on message. This is critical as intended meaning is determined by the sender while the real meaning is assigned by the receiver.

As a new leader there is a myriad of issues and challenges demanding the Prime Minister’s attention, however it is clear that one of his first priorities has been to begin to change the focus and the agenda for Australia by deliberately focusing on his communication style and approach.


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