What does a leader sound like?

As I write this President Obama has just headed back to the US after his visit to the UK during which he has made many speeches. Very few of us will get the chance to hear him speak in conversation or unscripted. This does not make what he says any less impactful but we will never know how much of the real him is in what he says.

In workshops on leadership when I ask participants to discuss a leader they admire almost always they choose a world leader. Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Mahatma Gandhi, Tony Blair – are amongst the favourites.

But we all know leaders much closer to home – at work, school/college/university, in our families, socially or as volunteers – and when we get to discussing what makes a good leader from personal experience strong communication skills are at the top of the list.



So what does a good leader sound like? According to the students I have worked with these are some of the common traits.

They speak from the heart – we can usually tell when someone is just going through the motions. A good leader will connect with people because they connect with their emotions ie they sound like they mean what they are saying!

They respond to what they hear – because they are good listeners too (an essential skill for a leader) – not passing the buck when things get a bit tricky.

They choose the right medium to communicate with the people – using face to face as often as is practical and possible and using email sparingly particularly for important messages.

They articulate their message clearly and consistently

They give timely, meaningful and constructive feedback.

They give praise generously and genuinely.

They talk positively and enthusiastically about what is going on – without taking credit.

What have we missed? What do the leaders you know sound like?


You can read more from Jackie on her website – http://www.consultcameron.com

1 Comment on What does a leader sound like?

  1. Indeed Jackie – the ability to communicate the message and to listen to the feedback are critical skills. I wonder how many potential leaders have failed to maxomise the opportunity because of their inability to effectively sound like a leader and, I suppose, how many time do we hear the words and see the image only to find out later that it was mainly style over substance? A certain number of UK leaders and MP’s certianly spring to mind when considering this latter type !

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