TSLH #004: 3 Leadership Secrets of Great Communication

TSLH #004: 3 Leadership Secrets of Great Communication

Read time: 5 minutes


I’ll start this week issue with a question for you: Who is a leader in the world (past or present) you admire and what specifically makes you consider this person a leader in the way s/he communicates? Think about that for 1 minute.

If I had to bet, I’d say that most of you will have thought of someone they admire for their strong legitimate leadership qualities. I’d also bet that when you thought about communication, one of the first things that came up to your mind is a public speech that leader made.

This is where the trap lies for you as leaders.

Don’t think great public speaking skills is all you need to be a great leader.

To be a great leader, what you need instead is great communication skills.

Although the difference between the two may seem slim to you, there is actually a wide ocean between public speaking and communication.

Wide enough indeed that in my opinion and experience from the past 25 years, witnessing countless leaders deliver speeches (including myself), I can confidently say that while great public speaking skills do help, they are not a predictor of your leadership success. On the other hand, great communication skills are a predictor of leadership success.

This is because of this:

  • Great public speakers have a strong voice, use inspiring words, control their time thoroughly, are masters at using teleprompters and rehearsing speeches, and they can galvanize a crowd or even a nation sometimes by speaking empathetically and with emotions. They will deliver the speech regardless of whether people are listening to them or are feeling engaged and energized.
  • Great communicators on the other hand must have people follow them, accept the vision the leader is building for them, and they need to trust that the leader will take them to that vision successfully. Great communication is not so much focused on delivering a great speech as it is on establishing the confidence and trust that the leader will actively deliver what they say they will.

Great communication makes you a great leader when you do these things:

Communicating with purpose. This means you need to know when you can speak. And learning to do that involves being able to listen with empathy and being able to speak up only when you are ready to say something that adds value. Communicate with a purpose is actually a typical strength of introvert people, as introverts tend to listen a lot and speak up only when they know what they say will matter.

Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are 2 leaders who demonstrate that ability to communicate with a purpose. For instance, when Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs communicated the vision he had for the smartphone and he delivered the product. Likewise, Elon Musk talked about Space X, his vision for space travel, and he delivered it. And note that while Steve Jobs is doubling as a very good speaker in my opinion, Elon Musk is not a good speaker. Both are great communicators though.

A small tip from me: Listen at levels 2 and 3 (see the first issue of The Saturday Leader Heroes) and from that place, you can communicate what you need to say, taking into account what you have heard (feelings, fears, concerns, etc.)

Communicating with consistency. This means you need to know how to speak. My suggestion here is that you practice focusing on 1 or 2 main points that you want to communicate effectively to your co-workers, your team, your company, and you make this communication a day-to-day combat and task. Communication is not about people having goosebumps when they listen to you. It’s about being convinced about something you say and hearing it often enough that they will grasp it and understand it.

Jean-Marc Jancovici, a French engineer, and an energy and climate expert is someone who communicates with consistency. His message – that nuclear power is to become a dominant energy source, and that non-nuclear renewable energies will never be sufficient to transition to a carbon-neutral economy – has stayed the same since he became known. The formulation of the message may be different, for instance depending on which media he talks to, but the focus is still the same.

A small tip from me: Never miss an opportunity to repeat your message, make it a mantra if that helps. Create clarity by asking people also to repeat your main points, so you confirm they are communicated and understood well.

Communicating with authenticity. This means you need to know why you speak. This is about you being an authentic leader, and communicating in a way that fully aligns with who you are, your values, your red flags, what you want to be known for. Speaking because everyone wants to talk in a meeting is not authentic communication. It’s at most a battle of alpha-personalities fighting for air time. What you want is to communicate about your beliefs and from there, create trust and engagement with your team or co-workers in your organization.

General George S. Patton used to communicate with authenticity. If you read his famous speech of June 5, 1944 to his 3rd Army, you’ll notice how everything he says to his soldiers is tied to his own beliefs of what fighting is about and how what he tells them he will do is confirmed by his actions on the ground.

A small tip from me: Make sure everybody knows what your values, red lines, beliefs are. And never miss an opportunity to walk the talk! Do as you say is the best way to engage other people and create the trust you need to achieve success in your leadership role.


Remember, you can take a training on public speaking, and it will likely help you fight your fear of talking to a large audience, or teach you a thing or two on how to structure a speech.

What matters though is not that you are good at public speaking. What matters is that you can communicate with purpose, consistency and authenticity, in order to create trust, engagement, and accountability.

Have fun with this and let me know about your progress.

TL; DR (Too Long, Did not Read)

3 leadership secrets of great communication

  1. Communicating with purpose
  2. Communicating with consistency
  3. Communicating with authenticity

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1️⃣ Work 1-1 with me to step up as the authentic leader you aspire to be.

2️⃣ Hire me to help you build a high-performing team.

3️⃣ Start with my affordable digital courses on Mastering Difficult Conversations for Leaders and Goal Setting