Many of the great businesses of the world have great services and products. That's a given. What really makes them stand out, though, is that their leaders are fantastic communicators. What's more, these leaders teach others how to communicate well too, so that connection becomes a cornerstone for the culture of the entire organization. They're fearless when it comes to communicating with their customers, prospects, and community. But what exactly is it that makes fearless leaders' communication stand out?
The three traits
What sets fearless leaders apart in their communication is not necessarily eloquence. You don't have to be Shakespeare for people to pay attention. It's not even bold assertiveness that makes many business leaders stand out. Some of the most profound communication that leaders offer happens as a quiet gift to just one person in times of hurt and need. And this is enhanced by the three main traits fearless leaders have that makes their communication different and more effective.
1. They know their audience
Sure, this has to do with knowing your audience on a surface demographic or cultural level. But it's also about being empathetic in the moment. It's about looking around and sensing the energy they have and need from you and understanding how much they can handle, the style they want to hear, and even the medium/platform they want you to use to communicate at that specific time.
The only way you can really be empathetic like this is to spend quality time with people and get to know them as human beings. That's especially true as the world and teams get more and more diverse and work through all kinds of different setups.
2. They're transparent
The second trait fearless leaders have that makes them great communicators is transparency. This just means sharing your expertise or the information you have in a straightforward but kind way, including what's going on in the company. You don't try to sugarcoat anything, and you comfort people when they need it. That's essential for building a legacy.
You have some obligation to mentor, pay it forward, and make sure there will be fearless leaders to take over for you in the next generation. Plus, transparency ensures that there are no gaps in your story for people to fill in on their own. The rumor mill stops and, consequently, so do fear and doubt.
3. They're authentic
Lastly, fearless leaders are authentic. This means you show your personal truths. You admit what you like or don't like, the mistakes you make, what you don't know, and what drives you. There's no faking it or pretending for appearances.
Even though you might adjust your personality a little depending on the situation -- the company potluck is a lot different than a formal fundraiser, for example -- being authentic means your overall style stays consistent. Because people know what to expect from you, it's easier for them to trust you. They don't have a problem confiding in you or sharing their ideas with you because they know you'll be genuine, and they don't get the sense that something is "off."
It takes work, but the harvest is golden.
Of course, this isn't the end of the story. Once you have these three key communication ingredients, you still have some work to do. You have to think about whether your message is clear and consistent over time, for instance. You have to think about pacing and know how much communication is enough. And you have to have a sense of what the ramifications of your communications are going to be, for better or worse. That takes critical thinking skills, good objectivity, and a great awareness of both facts and culture.
You have to approach communicating fearlessly from multiple angles and accept that it doesn't just happen with a snap of your fingers. You'll need to work at it with intention and see it as a constant work-in-progress. But the same characteristics that make your communication successful -- knowing your audience, being transparent, and being authentic -- go beyond improving business results and productivity. They enable real friendships. Ultimately, if your company really is about serving others, then that's the real gold. Let this shine, and don't hold back. When you have solid relationships strengthened by outstanding communication, everything else will follow naturally.