Communications and leadership are two of the areas that I find particularly interesting in working life.
That’s why I was keen to read “The Language of Leaders” – a book by Kevin Murray (Chairman, Good Relations Group) on how top organisational leaders in the private and public sectors use communications as part of their leadership role.
The insights in the book come from more than 70 leaders from organisations including Marks & Spencer, British Red Cross, the Department of Transport, BskyB, the Met Office, British Gas, Unilever, The Olympic Delivery Authority and The British Army.
From interviews with these leaders, Kevin’s book identifies 12 principles of leadership communication – the things that leaders need to focus on in their personal and business communication. These principles are explained in detail in the book through a good range of stories, case studies and examples to illustrate the value of communications in a leadership role.
I was particularly taken with the section about the role of listening as a leadership tool and a means to gain engagement. The role of conversations and the skills required of leaders to be able to have the conversations that make a difference to performance are emphasised strongly.
The book is packed with useful insight that can anyone with a leadership role can take away and actually practice – it’s not heavily academic in tone and distils down a mass of information and perspective into real-world actions for leaders to take now.
The book ends with a round-up of the key insights from the interviews. What comes through most strongly in this is the role of authenticity in leadership communications – the complexities of the leadership message being bound up in the passion, belief and authenticity of the leader mean that, in essence, a leader needs to believe in their mission and values to be able to communicate effectively.
That’s something that seems pretty straightforward when written down in print. But in day-to-day work settings it is more complex to achieve – which is why being completely clear on what you are seeking to achieve in your leadership and how you are going to do it is vital. Without that reference point from which to anchor the way you do your job day in day out, your leadership will inevitably be compromised.
So I guess the challenge for me is to be really clear and consistent what that mission is. And be able to reference that in every situation that your professional life throws at you.
And I should end with thanks to a new member of my team who has inspired me to sit down and write a blog post for the first time in a while by saying she actually read my blog – thanks – you know who you are!
Disclosure: Free review copy of Language of Leaders supplied by the publishers