The Connection Between Communication and Leadership
Communication and leadership go hand in hand.
In An Integrative Theory of Leadership, Martin M. Chemers describes leadership as “a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”
In its Guidelines for Meeting the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities, the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities said that communication is “any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person’s needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states.”
To lead is to influence others toward a shared goal. Communication is how we transmit and receive the very information of which influence consists.
Influence is the common thread that binds leadership and communication.
Let’s consider how effective communication is indispensable to those in positions of leadership in a variety of areas.
- Politics – Political leaders must communicate well with others not only in the course of doing their duty, but to even be in a position to be elected or appointed to leadership positions in the first place. We have often seen that, in the political world – for better or worse – even those with subpar vision and policies can still rise to powerful positions if they have great communication abilities.
- Business – Business leaders must communicate well in order to coordinate colleagues, attract and inspire workers and ensure that key tactics and strategies are understood throughout their organizations. They must also have some understanding of how the organization can best gauge the needs and desires of its suppliers and customers and then communicate with them in order to facilitate their satisfaction.
- Education – Educational administrators must gain insight through feedback from others in their systems, communicate with each other as they use that information to develop plans and strategies, and then make the resulting policies clear to teachers and students. Teachers must be able to express themselves with and understand their students in order to best help them learn.
- Sports – Those in front office positions in sports organizations must communicate like any other business leaders. Coaches and trainers must communicate well with the athletes on their teams to bring out their best.
- Family – In order to optimally nurture children, parents must be able to skillfully elicit and interpret the particular needs of each child and discover ways to communicate such that each child can best relate.
Another way to look at this connection between communication and leadership is to consider some of the specific leadership tasks in which communication is crucial.
- Assessment and Evaluation – One must possess strong communication skills in order to assess strengths, weaknesses, positions and trends involving individuals, groups and organizations as a whole.
- Strategy – Developing workable plans requires the ability to draw information from a variety of sources and share it with teams of people working on various parts of what eventually becomes an integrated map for the future.
- Management – In order to most effectively coordinate and deploy people and resources, communication is essential. Strong ability to gather feedback on the fly and express clear, actionable directives is the heart of successful management.
- Mediation – Every human system will, at times, develop some form of conflict. Mitigating or resolving these conflicts requires very strong communication skills such as listening, empathizing and diplomacy.
- Sales and Marketing – Helping potential users of one’s products or services attain a realistic and accurate knowledge of them is all about inquiring into and recognizing their values and expressing the compatibility between what you offer and what they need or want.
These are just some of the social areas and tasks that help reveal the integral link between communication and leadership. There are many more.
Where do you see the importance of communication in leadership most strongly evident? Share your ideas in the comments below.