How Leaders Communicate, Part 5

play-stone-1738158_640Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at four different types of leaders. Specifically, the focus has been on how leaders communicate. Each leadership style uses language to a particular end.

Visionaries communicate in order to share a vision and inspire the team to reach high.
Captains communicate to define goals, clarify job-roles, and provide accountability.
Mentors communicate in order to share knowledge and expand the skill sets of others.
Cheerleaders communicate in order to encourage, recognize, and reassure those around them.

The most effective leaders don’t rely on just one style of communication. The best leaders understand that they have to adopt different leadership styles depending on the people and circumstances they find around them. You may identify strongly with one style; but you can’t just rely on a single mode of communication and lead adequately.

For instance, I’m very comfortable communicating as a Visionary leader. I love talking to people about what’s possible and dreaming up solutions to problems. But if that’s all I do – if that’s the only thing I talk about – I’m not going to be an effective leader. I have to balance my communication across all four of the styles we’ve explored.

Visionaries have to step back from dreaming and help people develop the skills they need to achieve those dreams. So I have to communicate like a Mentor. People need to understand how their role fits into the big picture that I’ve drawn for them and be given a specific role to play. That means I have to communicate like a Captain. And people like to be recognized. Who wants to work in a world where there’s no reward for effort? So, even though it’s not my natural tendency, I have to communicate like a Cheerleader.

This is why true leadership is so hard. You have to work at it to be good at it. Even then, you never really feel like you’re as effective as you could be…or should be. Effective leaders are always trying to communicate more effectively. They’re never satisfied with their own performance.

So there’s yet one more way leaders communicate. They ask questions.

“What do you need from me?’
“How can I help?”
“What do you think?”
“How can we improve this?”
“What should I be doing better?”

When leaders speak, they generally ask questions. They lead us to get involved and leave us having learned as much from us as we have from them. Take a moment and think about your communication style. Do you ask enough questions? Do you seek out input on your own improvement? Do you value the words of others more than your own?

That’s how leaders communicate.


If there’s one message that I hope you received through this series, it’s this: You are a leader.

Every single one of us is born with the capacity for leadership. But not everyone chooses to make use of this gift. Actually, most people never do. They go through life wishing they were a leader, or bemoaning the lack of adequate leadership around them. Worst yet are those who understand what they are capable of, but decide to ignore this natural ability.

I hope you’ve thought about your own leadership style this month and how your communication patterns influence the people around you. We don’t need more leaders, we already have enough. They’re all around us. What we need are men and women who make the choice to lead.

Leadership is not a position. It is a choice.

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