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True communication emerges from your being

I have spent a career helping leaders to be more effective in the messages they give, and for a long time I mistakenly focused on the content, sometimes to the exclusion of authenticity. True communication emerges from our being and is most powerful when it gives expression to our values and emotions. How leaders learn to be more emotional in the way they communicate is therefore a critical factor in their success.

The Work Foundation, part of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, is a leading independent authority on work and its future. A recent two-year study by the Foundation entitled Exceeding Expectation: The principles of outstanding leadership, showed that outstanding leaders combined drive for high performance with an almost obsessive focus on people as the means of achieving this. It showed clear differences between good and outstanding leadership.

It says: ‘There is now strong evidence to support a systemic, people centred approach to high-performance leadership. This is a paradigm shift for most leaders who remain focused on the numbers and has implications for all organisations seeking to improve their performance.’

The results showed some fascinating differences between leaders who are good and leaders who are outstanding. For instance, all leaders talked about the importance of engaging others in the vision, but outstanding leaders conveyed a greater depth and higher purpose when speaking about vision, seeing it as a clarion call that affected employee commitment and engagement. Good leaders were more likely to see vision only as useful in aligning people through a cascade of objectives. When it came to creating the right working environment, all leaders understood the need for trust, respect and honesty. But outstanding leaders understood how they combined to create the conditions for exceptional performance.

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