What Does Leadership Sound Like?

Is there a leadership “sound”?

Wow! The feedback that I received from so many of you about the “look” of leadership was amazing. And, even if I had not already planned today’s article as a follow-up, it would be an imperative in light of the interest in the “leadership look.” So, let’s consider if there is a “sound” associated with great leadership.

Leadership has a voice

The site publishing this week’s article is aptly named in my opinion. For, there is indeed a leadership “voice.” Several years ago I wrote an article on whether or not leadership was a quiet or loud activity. The genesis of thought for the article spans from my firstborn’s kindergarten teacher in 1990. If you are interested in that background thought, here is a link to that article.

Communication is the “voice” of leadership

Communication is the voice of leadership. In fact, it is one of the most important functions of a leader. It is at this point that you separate real leaders from visionaries and other big picture and strategic thinkers. Indeed, those are leadership functions. But, my goal in this piece today is to be much more tactical in my approach.

Communicate with Clarity — How many times have you left a meeting with absolutely no idea of what was just said? How many times were you the leader in that meeting? Great leaders must be able to communicate the goals and objectives and all of the key strategies and tactics that will be necessary for their followers to embrace if they are to be successful as an organization.

Communicate with Conviction — Clarity is not enough. Great leaders must communicate with the conviction that dwells deep within. A leader’s message must be anchored to foundational principles that will not be overly influenced by pop-culture and trendy “Ted Talks.”

Communicate with Confidence — At first blush, confidence may seem too akin to conviction when it comes to how a leader communicates. However, I believe that conviction alone is not enough. I may be assured that I am correct in my communication. But, if you are not convinced that it has value for you, then you will not follow. It is a leader’s confidence that is layered on top of their message of clarity with conviction. Often times leaders try to communicate with confidence without much clarity or conviction. When that happens they are heard as having a sense of false bravado.

I am a leader. Listen to me!

We are so tempted to shout that out. “I am a leader! Listen to me!”

As soon as we shout that out, we have lost the leadership communication test. We are raising our voice desperately trying to have our verbal message speak louder than our non-verbal message. Now, I am a big fan of verbal communication. In fact, I have made that ability a central theme to my 35-year career. But even the most gifted communicators cannot overcome the volume of non-verbal communication when it contradicts the clarity, conviction, and confidence with which we are trying to speak.

What about you?

Are you open to rethinking your leadership voice and what constitutes what a leader may sound like in their messaging? Are you able to communicate with clarity, conviction, and confidence? What message are you sending non-verbally? And, are you listening to what other leaders are saying to you?


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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.