7 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

Ciara McDonnell
By | Updated June 23, 2017 | 5 min read

The art of communication is the language of leadership – James Humes


Good leaders, effective leaders, understand and realize they need to be great communicators. In addition, they understand that the art of two-way communication is imperative in order to be effective. Not only does an efficient leader need to be good at speaking, they also have to be good at listening to feedback, ideas, opinions, and constructive criticism, responding accordingly to meet the desired outcome.


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A description from John Baldoni‘s publication Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders which resonates highly with me states; “leaders who become better communicators automatically enhance their value as a leader”.

As we all know, the communication approach and method from any leader within an organization has a huge impact on the fellow people or employees, as it shapes the way in which we think, talk about and perform.

Leaders need to do more than just stand up and speak. They need to integrate communications into everything they do as leaders so that their communications, both oral and written, emerge from who they are as leaders and within the appropriate cultural context. Leaders who fail in communications will fail to achieve their organizational aims” – John Baldoni, Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders


Some key objectives of a leader who aspires to be a great communicator are to successfully convey the goals and desired results, gain support for the goals, and build rapport with the stakeholders and those whom they are responsible for leading in the process.

So how do you know if you have the skill-set to become an excellent communicator and leader? How do you know if you fit the criteria to already be one? After much research, here are the top communication secrets of great leaders (in my opinion!).


7 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

1. Audience Knowledge

Great leaders don’t tell people what they want to hear. In fact, it is quite the opposite, great leaders tell people what they need to hear, what is important for them to hear – good or bad. In order to do this effectively, great communicators know their audience and adapt how they deliver the message, so that people will be able to hear it.


2. Building Trust

Trust cannot be bought or demanded, it can only be earned through your actions and proving yourself. The main purpose of business communication is to build trust. Before any leader gets too focused on communicating, they take the time to make sure the message they are planning on delivering in precisely what the organization needs.


3. Honesty

High-quality communication increases the likelihood your plan for success will come true – and honesty contributes to the high quality. The best leaders know that for communication to be effective it has to be real, and not beget distrust or anxiety. In good times and bad, honesty builds trust.


4. Speaking to Groups as Individuals

It is a rare occasion that leaders have the luxury of speaking or listening to one person at a time.  Great communicators can tailor a message such that they can speak to 10 people in a conference room or 10,000 people in an auditorium and have them feel as if they were speaking directly to each one of them as an individual. This increases the credibility of the speaker, builds trust and rapport with the audience.


5. Listening

One of the most important factors to consider becoming a great communicator is to be a good listener. Great leaders know that communication is a two-way street and what they hear is often more important than what they say. When someone else is speaking, you shouldn’t be thinking ahead and planning what you’ll say next. Instead, actively listen and be fully focused on understanding the other person’s perspective.


6. Open-mindedness

When you want to explore new opportunities, then being open-minded is the best weapon you can have for survival. To become a good leader you have to understand the common people’s ground of action. A leader takes the game to the next level once they seek out those who hold contradictory opinions and opposing positions –  with the goal not of convincing them to change their minds, but with the goal of understanding what it is that they are thinking and saying.


7. Communication with Clarity

Get specific! Clear and concise will always trump complicated and confusing. Today, time is a finite resource and a precious commodity, it is vital to make your words count. Great leaders have learned to cut to the chase and hit the high points in a clear and considered manner.


And there you have it, seven communication secrets of great leaders. They’re authentic and honest. They listen and communicate with clarity and they have superior communication skills because they value it – and that is one of the steps to becoming a great leader!


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Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook

Ciara McDonnell
Ciara McDonnell

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