For a leader, communication is much more than the simple transfer of information. Leaders communicate to generate passion, focus attention, and encourage wavering followers. Good leaders communicate well because they have a clear understanding of the vision and are passionate about pursuing their dream for a better future.
Communication allows their focused commitment and zeal to make a difference and overflows into the lives of others. But not all leaders use the same communication style; every leader has his or her own way of informing and inspiring their followers. Some are excellent speakers, others are gifted writers, some dance or sing while others send tweets.
Speaking has been the primary means of communication since the dawn of recorded history. Joshua challenged the children of Israel to trust God and take the Promised Land at the beginning and end of his leadership role. Solomon spoke eloquently at his coronation. Jonah reluctantly preached to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and revival ensued. Isaiah’s words encouraged the soul of a frightened, vulnerable and outnumbered nation. Jesus understood the power of the spoken word. His Sermon on the Mount, Olivet Discourse, parables, teaching and disputations show His commitment to oratory and His gifted use of this leadership tool.
But not all leaders speak well. Some have physical problems that limit their verbal effectiveness. Others need time to craft their thoughts and wordsmith their ideas. Some of the best writers I have read have proved disappointing as speakers. That’s fine. God designed each of us differently, and we all lead from different strengths. Speakers speak and writers write. Martin Luther was a powerful preacher, but he said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”
Since the invention of the printing press, leaders have moved the hearts and minds of their followers through the written word. Non-fiction tends to reshape minds. Machiavelli’s The Prince, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, Freud’s On Dreams, Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and Karl Barth’s Epistle to the Romans are but a few works that have redirected the thinking of our world.
Many leaders recognize the power of fiction to capture both the hearts and minds of readers. Story, based on real life or imagination, may ultimately influence people more than information alone. Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Shaara’s Killer Angels, and Endo’s Silence demonstrate how great leaders move hearts and minds when they tell great stories.
Some leaders use the arts to motivate followers. Legend has it that Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus within his Messiah moved the King of England to stand, and the rest of the world with him. We still stand in awe not only of the music but of the Messiah who inspired Handel’s masterpiece. No one can minimize the cultural influence of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix. Frankenstein, Easy Rider, 2001 A Space Odyssey, and Dr. Strangelove are movies that entertained and influenced the values of their generation.
In today’s world, social media is a powerful communication technique that leaders use to gather flash mobs in shopping malls, influence product sales, and overthrow tyrants.
Through whatever means, leaders communicate and they communicate well. Max DuPree introduced the term lavish communication, George Duff reminded us that we are speaking to a parade, not a crowd. We must tell our story time and again. Effective leaders tell the story over and over realizing that people forget, followers change, and the message is worth telling over and over and over again!
Download PDF Version: