Great communication is the lifeblood of great leadership

Leaders’ effectiveness depends on their ability to engage, inspire and move people in various ways to work toward a shared vision and goals, and to achieve significant results.

Being a great communicator is one of top ten characteristics of great leaders.

Great leaders are great communicators

Leaders deal with many different emotions in the teams they lead (and in themselves).

Some people they lead are energetic and always expect the best, others feel and show fear, pressure, confusion, and at times, weariness, boredom and loss of engagement on the long path to achieving a major goal.

Powerful, effective leaders know when and how to communicate, no matter what’s going on with their teams or organizations.

They know when to listen, talk, show

They use all the vital communication skills of leadership effectively.

They also know that the most powerful communication of all is their attitude and their actions, far more than what they say in any circumstance.

Imagine any of the world’s great leaders and what might have been different, had each been an average communicator, at best.

Leaders face different communication needs and challenges, depending on the circumstances in which they’re leading.

Day-to-day and high risk situations bring challenges

Here are a few of the main challenges you may meet as a leader:

Normal, predictable cycles of operations

These circumstances involve vision-setting, planning, regular action, follow-up, problem-solving and process improvements.

During these times, great communication focuses a team or organization on goals, the path and processes to reach them, roles, consistent check-in points, the ways that progress is evaluated and ensured.

Major change or improvement efforts

These circumstances may involve reorganizations or mergers and acquisitions, very rapid growth, major improvements and other types of significant change.

During these times, great communication focuses on what is or will be different, how the change will be achieved, how progress will be evaluated and communicated, as well as how to sustain momentum as change proceeds.

It is essential that leadership communications and processes at these times keep people focused, energized, engaged and encouraged as they go through the often very difficult work of change.

High-stress or emergency communications

These include natural disasters, such as earthquakes or hurricanes, and man-made disasters, such as on 9/11/01 in the US, and during stressful times when US and world financial markets lurched wildly in 2008, and the recovery period afterwards.

During these times, great communication is focused on providing clear directions so people can try to meet their immediate and then longer-term health, safety, security and other needs.

In addition, there’s often a strong need for community in high stress times, with ways for people to share and process their often-frightening, yet memorable, shared experiences. (These are the conversations that begin with questions such as, “Where were you when you heard the news?” or “Where were you when it happened?”).

Hurdles to good communication are high

No matter what type of circumstance leaders and their organizations are in, most of the same stages of communication must be successfully addressed:


Earn and hold the attention of their audience.


Reach people in a personally significant way so that they can relate to what is being communicated, “enroll,” and take appropriate action once they have.


Create a clear path that brings together the many individual actions needed to achieve big goals.


Inspire people to draw on – and continue to draw on – persistence, if it is necessary to see a difficult effort through to completion.


Ensure that actions are moving along as needed in order to reach milestones and goals.


Coordinate efforts and information to help people solve problems, reach goals, and create success, hopefully, in the easiest, clearest, most effective way.


Acknowledge that milestones and goals have been achieved, and acknowledge them in a way that is valued by the people who reached them.