Insight article

It’s all about leadership

Dave Ulrich told last week’s HR Leadership Alliance of Warren Buffet’s latest investment in GE and Goldman Sachs.  Why?  Not simply because of their performance, but because they are known to have excellent leaders.

In fact the message was simple – more and more investors will be looking to invest in companies with good leaders, and good leadership will come from LEADERS – not HR – training leaders.  And there are some great insights into what the most important skill of a leader is in the latest issue of Business Strategy Review:  Communication.  Here Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove explain the eight key disciplines for communicating clearly:

1. Always on:  As a leader you are communicating 24/7, not simply to employees but the media, analysts and shareholders.  The smallest thing or an off-the-cuff remark can get amplified – and distorted.  Remember Gerald Ratner?

2. Know your messages:  Consistency, repetition and staying on message is vital.

3. Distil it:  Keep it simple, boil the message down to its essence, make it memorable and repeat it endlessly.

4. Think audience:  Make the message relevant to your audience.  Use the right tone, level of energy, language and make it meaningful

5. Find your own voice:  Be authentic.  Know your strengths and your weaknesses and choose the most effective medium.  Whether a handwritten note or a Richard Branson-style antic, be you.

6. Tell stories:  Who are you?  What do you stand for?  What does this mean to your followers?  Make a rational and emotional case.  Leadership communications expert Terry Pearce says “While the mind looks for proof, the heart looks for engagement.  While the mind looks for information, the heart looks for passion.  While the mind looks for answers, the heart looks for experience.  The mind makes a decision, but it is the heart that makes a commitment.”

7.  Use symbols:  Actions speak louder than words.  Be a role-model.  Do as you would wish others to do.  Take a leaf out of BBC Director-General Greg Dyke’s book to show that cost-cutting starts at the top, and get rid of your senior exec chauffeur-driven cars!

8.  Stay in touch:  Work hard to stay in touch.  Keep listening.  Keep talking.  And don’t just listen to the loudest voices.

Nailia Tasseel