Leadership Communication

“The biggest problem with leadership communication is the illusion that it has occurred.” That sentence has grabbed me by the throat and it won’t let go!

Ron Crossland and Boyd Clarke write in The Leader’s Voice that leaders consistently make “four fatal assumptions” when they communicate:

  1. The people UNDERSTAND what I said
  2. The people AGREE with what I said
  3. The people CARE about what I said
  4. The people will take APPROPRIATE ACTION based on what I said

Then they go on to make that “grab you by the throat” statement – “The biggest problem with leadership communication is the illusion that it has occurred.”

The rest of this book is an explanation of how to more effectively communicate by using three essential “channels”:

  1. Facts
  2. Emotions
  3. Symbols

Some other great takeways from this book include:

  • “When your passion declares the direction you will go, it unites those who would follow and divides those who will not.”
  • “Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age” Albert Einstein. My takeaway on that is that you can be going nowhere very well. It is critical to know where you’re going and then figure out the best way to get there. Efficient systems and processes without a clear vision are nothing more than a great way to effectively waste time.


  • “Communicating the facts well requires the same skill as good storytelling.”
  • “The leader’s communication job is more interpretation than recitation. Minimal data presentation and maximum interpretation usually converts boring to interesting.”
  • “Most leaders understand the facts but do not often take the time to create a compelling, memorable representation of what the facts mean.”


  • “Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope. Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune is the practice of despair.”
  • “We believe that constituents will readily forgive most leadership faults. However, a lack of energy is seldom forgiven because it is perceived as a lack of caring or commitment.”


  • “A leader without symbols is like Elvis without hips.”
  • “If you have to work hard to explain a symbol, it’s not an effective symbol.”
  • “Repeated usage during a short time frame may fatigue symbols, eroding their effectiveness. It’s like telling a too-familiar joke. Or having only one joke.”
  • “We hope you become skilled at all forms of symbolism, but learning to tell a story is mandatory. Many of your personal experiences can become useful stories by simply adding details, dialogue, and drama. “

For more of this goodness you can buy “The Leader’s Voice” right here.

One thought on “Leadership Communication

  1. Dude, those first four statements hit me hard! If I just assessed and addressed those 4 mis-assumptions everyday, I would be a better teacher. Thanks for the post!

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