Four Critical Ingredients for Effective Communication
“Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership.” -Gilbert Amelio/President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp. Good communication skills are vital, and every successful organization has leaders who are effective communicators. Some are naturally great communicators, while others must learn and practice to become successful at communicating effectively. Nevertheless, an effective leader must be a great communicator. For example, Julius Caesar, small in stature, deaf in one ear and an epileptic, became the most powerful man in the known world. He knew what to say, how to say it and when to say it. He was a leader whose army was so devoted that they followed him without question and with great success! Another example of an effective communicator is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s communication skills were so effective that he was able to reach and bring together people of different races and ethnic backgrounds who had been at odds with each other since the beginning of the country. During the segregated climate of 1963, he led the March on Washington to advocate for civil rights for African Americans with over 200,000 Americans of different races and ethnic backgrounds in attendance. Dr. King delivered his significant “I Have a Dream” speech at the march, and the march was later credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet another example of a great communicator is Nelson Mandela. Mandela, with powerful verbal and nonverbal communication, helped heal a country divided by apartheid and became a unifying figure. He developed an unbreakable friendship with a young man whose life was shaped by the hardline attitude of the white Afrikaner. These three men had the power to communicate effectively both verbally and nonverbally and used this power to inspire others. This same power to communicate effectively is what leads great organizations to success! It is clear from the above examples that effective communicators need to master certain communication skills such as using nonverbal cues, listening to others, sharing information and transparency. Let’s take a closer look at each of these key skills.