The Correlation of Communication and Leadership

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There’s no denying that Donald Trump is unlike any President in history. It is literally unbelievable that despite all the corruption charges and even an impeachment charge to boot, Trump demands complete fealty! It has now come to a point where to cross him is to risk one’s own future in the Republican Party. His support base remains largely intact – such is Trump’s compelling power and sway over them that it seems almost impossible to come in between him and his base. How has he managed to achieve this? As we look closer, it becomes apparent that his unconventional style of communication is at the heart of this success. No other President has come even close to realizing the sheer power of unfiltered access to the public through social media. This is a far cry from the polished manicured PR communication typically through the traditional press conferences and televised presidential speeches that we are used to. What we have instead is a Twitter-savvy President whose direct-to-public communication strategy has resulted in declining media’s influence and making journalists increasingly irrelevant. Twitter has in fact given the President the opportunity to connect personally with his base, express his opinions and decry his opponents at all times and all rolled in one platform. In fact, he managed to literally brought America to the brink of war and back just a few days ago...on Twitter! It is no wonder then that this hyper-connectivity and always-on presence has helped him to constantly assert his influence and in fact create an alternative news sphere entirely.

Like it or hate it, Trump can sure teach us a thing or two about the power of effective communication as the world shifts to a new paradigm of communication. It’s fascinating to watch him brush aside his impeachment charges, among many others, as “fake news” and hypnotize the nation with his Twitter rants and speeches. The simple fact is that Trump is a powerful story-teller and hooks in his supporters through his narratives, even if they can be ridiculous to an extent! It shows us that the most important thing is not the tone or the way in which the message is shared but rather how it connects with your audience. This is particularly interesting because it’s something that most company leaders struggle with.

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History has long since been strewn with high flying CEOs whose careers have been brought down by a poorly led communication strategy. The last year especially has not been very kind to the US tech giants. For the first time, Google and Facebook are no longer among the 10 best places to work in the US according to the latest ranking by Glassdoor, with their CEOs have been embroiled in various controversies and scandals. Who would have thought that Google, who had long since prided itself on an open culture where employees could speak their mind, would make a startling culture shift away from upfront communication as it attempts to curb growing employee activism?

In stark contrast, one of the first moves that Satya Nadella made after he took over as CEO of Microsoft in 2014 was to request his executive team to read Marshall Rosenberg’s 'Nonviolent Communication, in an effort to change the company's cut-throat culture. It signaled a major shift for Microsoft back then as Nadella focussed on rebuilding the company through compassion and effective communication. It might not sound like a radical move, but it has worked and how One of the main tools Nadella used to successfully to transform the company’s communication strategy was the use of Yammer, the enterprise version of Facebook social work. By facilitating open conversations hosted on Yammer, Nadella helped Microsoft move away from silos, enabling employees across all generations and levels at the company, including the C-suite to interact and have constructive conversations with each other. It was a great way to build commitment and trust in his vision of transforming Microsoft and Nadella was eventually able to redirect the focus on teamwork, collaboration and above all, results. It is indeed a far cry from the toxic culture characterized by competing factions and internal antagonism that prevailed under his predecessor, Steve Ballmer’s reign.

Another case in point is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos who recognized early on that effective communication was not just a “soft skill” but rather a mandate. Bezos has even banned PowerPoints at executive meetings and instead prefers full narratives being read around the table! His rationale? It gives the presenter a chance to fully communicate the thoughts and ideas behind their concepts. Bezos even has a reputation of being a powerful storyteller – his communication skills is the key factor in ensuring that his objectives and vision are well understood and worth being pursued by employees and customers alike.

Which brings us back to this question – what can we learn from these examples when it comes to our own leadership? Do we put forward our objectives clear enough to be understood across the company right down to the junior-most employee? How do we drive home the most important points to our employees, customers, and partners? It’s all about striking the right balance between gaining support by finding mutuality and collaborating with others – even those who we may fundamentally disagree with. This is indeed a necessary tenant of effective communication, and ultimately leadership. At the end of the day it’s the people that make a difference - be it your employees or stakeholders and other supporters – and making sure that they are involved through the journey and on the same path towards a common vision. 2020 will be the decade when leadership and employee communication will be the game-changer for companies and it will be interesting to see which brands will evolve - and those that lag behind - as we enter a new era rife with opportunities!

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The Correlation of Communication and Leadership. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-correlation-of-communication-and-leadership/
“The Correlation of Communication and Leadership.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-correlation-of-communication-and-leadership/
The Correlation of Communication and Leadership. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-correlation-of-communication-and-leadership/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
The Correlation of Communication and Leadership [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-correlation-of-communication-and-leadership/
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