Thursday, September 19, 2013

Great Leaders Excel at Communicating

I’ve been thinking back a lot lately on the recruiting work I’ve done for the past 23.5 years.  One of the topics that is most intriguing to me at this point in my career is leadership.  

What is Leadership and What is it Made of?

I have my own personal ideas as to what makes a great leader. I've studied other's points of view regarding great leadership. Every chance I get to ask someone I believe is a great leader to talk about the subject, I do.  I've recently surveyed part of my LinkedIn network to determine what others look for in leaders they're willing to follow.  I'll share my research and observations in the weeks to come.


Great leaders possess many traits that cause them to stand out.  One of the traits I recognize in every great leader I’ve ever worked with is their ability to communicate. I’m talking about actually sitting down one-on-one with another human being either in person or on a phone call to talk.

Tom's Thoughts

The other day, I shared a conversation with someone I have known for most of my life.  I was curious to know what Tom thought was the key to the longevity of our close friendship relationship.  There are many keys but here is one key that came to Tom’s mind right away.

The problem with people’s communication today is that they consider tweeting, texting and Facebook as acceptable primary forms of communication. These forms of communication are one-sided and are unable to impart any tonal inflection. These forms of communication are also an unacceptable way to send bad news (whether personal or professional).

A single word or statement can have several meanings and by not talking to the individual you leave the meaning up to the reader. What you may have meant to be humorous could be perceived as hurtful, spiteful or insensitive. I am sure this inability or unwillingness to communicate verbally is the reason many of us have had to deal with the fallout of a simple misunderstanding that could have been avoided with a simple phone call rather than an email or a post on someone’s Facebook account.

In business this fallout problem is compounded exponentially. A phone call shows that you respect the other person’s time as well as their opinion and leaves no doubt as to your meaning.
What Tom didn't say in the last few paragraphs is that he and I communicate regularly.  Here and there we exchange an email but more often than not, we get on the phone and keep up on each other's lives.  

Afraid To Speak

I’ve recently dealt with senior executives who seem to be afraid of actually talking.  They resort to sending emails that always require interpretation. As my friend Tom suggests, there is no reason to make someone else interpret what they’re reading when you could simply speak with that person and leave no room for interpretation.

These business people who are supposed to be leaders but who really are not cost other's time, energy, opportunity cost and money through their inability or unwillingness to speak with words.

Success Happens When...

The greatest successes I’ve had in business over my life have always occurred when I’ve partnered with great leaders who communicate deliberately, regularly and clearly on the other end of my project. 

Failure Happens When...

In contrast, my greatest failures more often than not have occurred when I’ve mistakenly partnered with those whom I thought were leaders until I figured out that they run their lives via emails and texts and they avoid one-on-one live verbal human communication at all costs.

Communicate With Me Please
  • Who have you had the most success working with on the other end of your projects?
  • What traits in leadership do you look for when you’re considering a career move?
  • What traits have you experienced in leadership in the past that have caused you to leave a company and/or a boss behind?'s Security Recruiter Blog