What does a good leader look like?

Many years ago (and I mean many) I was on a change management course; one of our exercises was to draw what we think a good leader looks like – bringing out their main characteristics. Once the group moved beyond the hysterics about drawing we were given a powerful lesson in understanding our own biases and stereotyping. The Alpha male came out strongly in all our drawings yet, as we were soon to learn many great leaders don’t have these characteristics.

With the benefit of this and many other lessons over the years it is very apparent that a leader doesn’t always have the characteristics of the alpha male. One area where a strong leader needs to excel is with their communication, this is relevant to any personality style.

In the Kandula Konnects newsletter article we looked specifically at the EQ/ IQ balance, including the stats that nearly 60% of the employers who responded to a study by the International College of Management Sydney (ICMS) stated that there is a greater focus in the workplace on open communication.

Thinking about open communication in a leadership context is sometimes confusing. I think it’s split in to a number of different areas and a strong leader needs to understand and excel in all these areas:

1. Using appropriate methods and channels of communication to tell the organisations story – this is particularly relevant for the CEO and Executive teams

2. Role modeling exemplary interpersonal skills, with the ability to communicate with groups and individuals to strengthen working relationships

3. Creating the environment for others to communicate, this could involve driving a culture where collaboration and cross team communication happens

Often a leader would see their role as doing only one of these 3 things. I would encourage organisations to look at how well they are delivering on all 3 pieces. Auditing communication within an organisation should look beyond the channels of communication and look at behaviours and the culture. Only by addressing all 3 areas will true leaders excel as communicators.


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