In our age of constant and instantaneous communication, much of which we engage in without much preparation, it's interesting to note some new research out of the Center for Creative Leadership which strongly links communication style to perception of leadership abilities.
Of the several "image busters" or common mistakes executives make that have a negative effect on their leadership image, 50% of them are communication related:
- Weak speaking skills - In a media-saturated world, people know a good speaker when they hear one. If necessary, executives should get a voice or speaking coach.
- Lack of clarity - Leaders who speak in vague, disjointed or rambling sentences confuse people. Executives should invest in media and presentation skills training to hone their message and delivery.
- Self-absorption - Leaders who overuse "I," "me," and "my" are isolating themselves and not engaging their audience. Focus on "we." Inclusive language inspires listeners and draws on shared efforts and interests.
To this I say...Bravo! The more persistent we are about putting focus on the value of speaking well and the drawbacks of not doing so, the more urgently our business communities will embrace this critical skill.
Perhaps former presidential speechwriter James Humes got it perfectly right when he said, "the art of communication is the language of leadership."