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The art of communication


At a recent virtual speaking engagement, I was asked what the most crucial skill any leader must have. I thought this was not a fair question, given the complex task involved in leadership, especially in the difficult environment we have experienced this past year.


I ended up giving an answer that included more than just one skill mentioning the importance of authenticity, empathy, and vision.


I am now looking at the shelves of business books lining my office and wonder what answer I would give if I really had to choose only one skill. Any one of the topics covered could offer a credible reply.


If pressed to choose one capability a leader needs in order to succeed, in my opinion, it would be an EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR. Great vision, poorly communicated to stakeholders, will not get results. A well-conceived competitive strategy without employees understanding the company’s purpose and their role in meeting the mission, will not get their buy-in and enthusiasm. Communication is about reaching out to people in a way they can unambiguously understand your message, relate to it, and act to achieve common goals.


Communication, in the words of Sir Peter Ustinov, writer and filmmaker, “is the art of being understood.”


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