Thursday, November 26, 2009

Leaders and communication

This week some extraordinary events in the Australian Federal Parliament highlight the fact that integrity (of which I wrote in my last blog), while essential for leadership, is nowhere near the whole picture.

The truth is that a leader is only as good as his or her communication.

My research that resulted in The Challenge of the Diamond and Leaders: diamonds or cubic zirconia? made that very clear. In my 8 facets of leadership, "integrity" is listed as #3 and, in #7 spot we find "communication". Unfortunately, as Dr Colin Rymer noted in his Doctoral Dissertation, most leadership researchers and writers seem to take "communication" as a given rather than drawing attention to its importance.

I have never met Malcolm Turnbull, the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament, but there can be no doubt as to his integrity in relation to Emissions Trading. He was concerned about this when a Government Minister and he remained true to his beliefs when he announced that the Opposition would support passage of the ETS legislation currently before Parliament. His problems relate to communication. Listen to the media and some of his colleagues apparently see him as arrogant and out of touch: a person who does not listen to them and who is more concerned with his own agenda than anything else (all of which may or may not be true - as I say, I have never met him and I have no direct knowledge about him.)

Whatever is the truth, it is very clear that he has not taken all of his followers with him and he has not obtained their total commitment.

Leadership is all about creating an environment in which people can be successful. This requires the settting of a very clear vision, objectives, strategies, and goals. It also requires that the leader ensures his or her followers have the necessary competence and commitment for the vision to become a reality. When I was running the program Leadership in Senior Management at Macquarie Graduate School of Management, I used the shorthand L=V+C //C to remind people that leadership (L) requires a vision (V) that is communicated (C) in such a way as to bring about commitment (C). Mr Turnbull failed in this regard.

Of course, this then raises the issue of "style" versus "substance" in communication. I'll deal with this next blog.

In the interim, what does your communication say about you?

More information about Douglas G Long and how I may be able to help you at

No comments:

Post a Comment