All role model leaders have learned to communicate eficiently and effectively. You will markedly improve your chances of inluencing people in an organization if you are recognized within it as an excellent communicator. When a leader communicates well with all employees, misinformation and rumours are much reduced. Either of these cause low productivity as well as less focused, less purposeful behaviour among the organization's people. Role model leaders understand why it is important to be an excellent communicator, and how best to communicate what is important to communicate. The audience for the role model leaders' communications includes those people they have determined they want to inluence as well as any other stakeholders they need to inluence as part of the change process. There is a large body of literature on how to communicate eficiently and effectively. I would only add here a few practices that have helped me to be a better communicator:
• Communicate the important message often, looking for ways to vary
the delivery to keep it fresh.
• Be authentic, match your actions to the message.
• Look for opportunities to deliver the message face-to-face rather
It is vital that the role model leaders be recognized as great communicators. That leaders' credibility will be much stronger if they can describe clearly the future state being advocated; deliver the message with clarity and passion; and answer questions about the direction with equal clarity and passion. If the message is inconsistent, if the leaders cannot deal with questions and controversy, if they are unable or unwilling to deliver the change message clearly and often, shared purpose will be elusive.
But there is another dimension to role model leaders' communications: the message must be more than functional – that is, clear and purposeful; it must also resonate at the emotional level, for it is this second level that inspires followers to do extraordinary things that they perhaps would not have done if they had made their choice to follow based solely on logical arguments.
Is this a form of selling? Is it charisma? A gift for speaking well is a valuable asset, but that gift is not the subject of this book. Certainly, being able to perform like Sir Laurence Olivier at the speaker's podium would be strongly desirable and it is perhaps even learnable. But gifts like those do not in themselves make a role model leader, however helpful they might be. More important is for role model leaders to be aware of their listeners' needs in terms of how the message is delivered and to tune their communication style to maximize their receptiveness. No opportunity can be missed to convey a message in a style that matches the audience's needs. The recipients of the message may be inluenced by a quiet style delivered to small groups, or by the opposite – a stage show where the message is delivered as theatre. (Steve Jobs' product roll-outs were a superb example of the latter.)
Role model leaders need to be capable of delivering messages that meet the needs of their followers. While words are obviously important, other things, such as body language, can be very powerful. The great actors know this – Robert De Niro and his peers can move us with a shrug or a wry smile.
Role model leaders' characters are directed at seeking “whole-self beneits.” By this I mean that leaders prepare themselves to interact constantly with all elements of society, inside and outside work, including family. Much has been made by many about life balance – that is, about balancing work, family, and recreation. No one can say precisely what balance is best for someone else; only individual leaders can decide for themselves.
A role model leader puts effort into enhancing family harmony. This relates to both the amount of time and the quality of that time. Growth in personal and family harmony contributes greatly to a role model leader's capacity to serve others effectively.
Networking with other leaders and capable people is a means for role model leaders to learn from and to teach others. Professional associations, think tanks, and self-initiated forums all provide opportunities for networking of this kind. I think of my own experience as a member of the Canadian Chemical Producers Association. This was a group of leaders of small, medium, and large Canadian chemical companies. The association's work was rewarding and fun. I had the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of thinkers and to offer my company's functional services to much smaller, embryonic companies that served the industry and the country. The most rewarding of these experiences were the ones where these embryonic companies had great technologies and a great value proposition to offer society and thereby improve the lives of others. But the embryonic company was lacking some technical expertise or other resource, and we could provide it and improve the industry in so doing.
All role model leaders are driven to serve society. There are many ways and many opportunities to give life to that character attribute, which is learnable. The customer and the shareholder / owner are important albeit unique elements of society, and providing service to those is understood even in conventional organizations. The aspiring developmental organization sees great mutual beneit in serving society as a whole.
Leaders work hard, mentally and physically. This is a fact, in my experience, and it is especially true of role model leaders. Most people, unless they do hard, physically and mentally demanding work, cannot learn to become high-performance leaders.
Few people think of physical itness as a prerequisite for learning to become a leader. Because leading others is so demanding, the healthier you are, the easier will be the tasks you face and the more energy you will have throughout the days and nights your work demands of you. Followers and other observers ind it hard to differentiate mental from physical energy. A goal of the role model leader is to learn to stay extremely it. Another is to demonstrate high levels of mental energy.
Stephen Hawking is a world-renowned theoretical physicist. Even though his body long ago failed him, he works long hours at an energetic pace. We all know people who have accomplished much because of their extraordinary mental energy. These people decided long ago to become more “mentally it” and to move beyond an “automatic” level of mental energy, which is where most people exist – most people are not prepared to do extraordinary things and prefer to do their work as they have done it before.
Role model leaders raise their level of mental energy to a “conscious” level and beyond. By conscious I mean that their thinking, learning, and doing are all characterized by striving to do more and accomplish more all the time. And they do this on behalf of others, with improving the lives of others as their goal. This is reaching for the state of developmental leadership.
It is hard work to achieve and maintain conscious levels of mental energy. To succeed, we must be motivated to learn more about our work and our work goals. We must be both knowledgeable about our work and aware of why we are doing it; in other words, we must be aware of what we are aspiring to achieve. That is what provides meaning and strategic substance for the work of role model leaders.
Followers admire leaders who demonstrate high levels of physical and mental energy. They are seen as passionate, energetic, and committed to changing things for the better.