Communication is the core of effective leadership

Lost in communication 24 October 2022

When we talk about leaders, leadership, team, or organisation, we’re really talking about the same thing.

Without an organisation, there’s no need for a leader or leadership and there’s no team; conversely, to be a leader is to exercise leadership, and to exercise leadership is a logical impossibility if no organisation exists to lead.

So, what is an organisation?

At its core, an organisation is a group of people coming together to collaborate for a common purpose. To be able to collaborate they have to communicate effectively with each other. 

Regardless of the type of collaboration, the perception of the organisation is defined, recognised, and characterised by its interaction or coordination patterns.

An organisation is defined by the nature and quality of the connections among the individuals comprising it and the communication between them. An organisation’s interaction or coordination patterns determine both its character (that is, the formal and informal rules and norms that shape how organisational connections are made and managed) and capability (what the organisation can actually accomplish).  

However, we often define a leader in terms of her/his/their role within an organisation and often by their job title, the CEO, the MD etc., rather than their function within the organisation.  It’s important to remember that the leader is also a member of the team and how they exercise their function within that team and communicate will determine how effective they are and, by extension, how effective the organisation is. 

To be an effective leader you need to be an effective collaborator and communicator. 

So, what are the determinants of effective collaboration?

What determines the strength and ease of the connections among people and, in more complex organisations, among teams of people?

The fundamental question that determines the relative effectiveness of any collaborative effort is: how well do we understand and agree on the intent of our collaborative effort?

The effectiveness of any organisation is directly proportional to the degree that the collaborators (or would-be collaborators) who make up the organisation have a common understanding of the general intent. As a leader, your primary responsibility, therefore, is to give voice to your organisation’s reality or narrative of why it exists.

Consistently effective leaders articulate and represent ‘who we aspire to be as an organisation’ in a way that everyone can make sense of things; in a way that everyone can identify if/where they can make a valuable contribution to the realisation of that aspiration, and if they want to participate. 

Because how effectively the team members communicate determines the relative success of the organisation you lead, your relative success as a leader will always, and can only, be ascertained by the relative success of the organisation you lead.

If the communication is more effective, you are a more effective leader; if the communication is less effective, you are a less effective leader. 

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