Byron's Babbles

3 Keys to Effective Leadership Communications




I had the honor of learning at Harvard University again last week. The topic of learning was leadership communications. I don’t care how experienced you are or how many expert communicators we have supporting us, we can always use additional knowledge and skill building in the are of communication. I spent several intense hours learning how to be a more effective leader through communications.



Really, it came down to three key parts to effective leadership communications:

  1. Credibility
  2. Logic, structure, clarity, data brought to the conversation at the right time
  3. Empathetic Connection

“Not understanding your audience is like writing a love letter to, ‘Whom it may concern.’”

Let me provide you with some bullet points that were some of my top takeaways:

  • Be deliberate in delivering information
  • Drive to synthesis – it give you the end goal
  • Body language needs to align with the message
  • Make sure and consider who your ultimate audience is
  • Consider with one way or two way communication is most appropriate for the message
  • Consider the level of knowledge of your audience
  • If communicating change, gauge the level of resistance
  • Study the political environment of your audience
  • Consider what preference your audience has for information intake
  • When doing a persuasive communication to a mixed audience cater to the ones who will ultimately make the decision
  • Determine what the reaction to the message will be (ie. surprise)
  • 80/20 rule: strive to be in person 80% of the time
  • Think about who delivers the message – messages should be delivered by the person directly leading the recipient
  • People like to be listened to
  • Listen genuinely without judgement
  • Most people only remember 3-5 things you tell them
  • Make it personal
  • Always develop a hierarchy of information
  • Anticipate objections to a message being communicated up front before the communication is made
  • Good listening is a form of presence
  • The harder the story is to tell, the more impact it will probably have
  • Tough stories to tell about yourself will have the most impact on those you are communicating with

“Resistance is a natural process, and should be expected. Don’t take it personally; view it as a sign you are on target.”

There are four keys to written communication:

  1. Main idea
  2. Situation
  3. Complication
  4. Resolution

If we stick to these key components we will not fall into the trap that I am sure you have either fallen into or been the recipient of – a lengthy email or letter that went on and on telling story after story, becoming emotional, and not really ever getting to the point. If you have people on your team that do this, or you do it, you might pass these four keys along or deliberately use them yourself.

pyramid-article-2It is important to note that people only remember 3-5 things you tell them. Therefore, we need a hierarchy of information. A great tool is the Minto Pyramid Principle developed by Barbara Minto. The Minto Pyramid Principle says that your thinking will be easy for a reader to grasp if you present the ideas organized as a pyramid under a single point. In her book, The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking and Problem Solving (2010), Minto explains a technique for working out your thinking on any subject, so that you can present it clearly to someone else. It explains:

  • why organizing your ideas into a pyramid structure will make them easy for someone else to grasp.
  • how to use the pyramid rules to help you discover and develop your thinking.
  • how to focus the thinking to be compelling to your audience.

I would recommend getting the book or taking one of her online courses. She takes you through using either an inductive or deductive approach, or a combination. With this system you consider your audience and whether an inductive, deductive, or a mixed approach would be most effective, then you just work through the communication pyramid. I found this to be an incredible way to work through decisions because when completed, the communication piece is ready as well.

As you can see, I learned a great deal. I’ll leave you with this thought on leadership communications:

“Presence:” “The ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others in order to motivate and inspire them to achieve a desired outcome.” ~ Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar


One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] 3 Keys to Effective Leadership Communications by Byron Ernest […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: