Communication & Leadership

with Peggy Klaus

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In order to be a great leader, you have to at least be a good communicator.

Peggy Klaus

Communications & Leadership Guru

Lessons Learned

Confidence plays a huge role in both communication and leadership.

Confidence is when you come across as your best self.

People create an impression of you within the first seven seconds.

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Lesson: Communication & Leadership with Peggy Klaus

Step #3 Leadership: In order to be a great leader, you have to at least be a good communicator

I think that in order to be a great leader, you have to at least be a good communicator. How else do you convey who you are, your ideas, your vision, your values – the strategy if you cannot communicate?

Now, I'm not saying that you have to have the oratorical skills of a Winston Churchill or a Bill Clinton or even Barack Obama. You do have to be able to frame your message and have it inspire and motivate. So that's where I think the intersection of being a good leader with a good communicator is.

I have met good leaders, not great leaders, good leaders who could use improvement in their communication skills. Where I see them most missing these skills, where the real gap is, is interpersonal communication skills. Their speech skills, their presentation skills were fine. It was in the interpersonal realm that they really lacked, or their inability, believe it or not, to give very direct, difficult feedback. Some of these people passed it on to others to do. That, to me, also really limits the scope of a great leader.

Owning that position and really taking it and knowing that they deserve it, to know that one deserves it and to be confident about it, does not make them disgustingly braggadocious or obnoxious or self-aggrandizing. They're there because they earned it. It's not any type of impostor syndrome.

When they reach those upper levels, the air is pretty rare. I think that they have a lot more self-doubt than their colleagues, perhaps, know about or certainly their shareholders. But when you get to work very intimately with someone, they open themselves up to you because that's where the real work gets done.

Confidence plays a huge role in both communication and leadership. It is really the ability to come across as your best self, that you know who you are, what you're talking about, where you want to go. If people don't come across as confident – and I don't mean cocky at all, like that. I mean if they don't come across as though they have that almost innate sense of self, then they can do what I call "meltdown", which is not bringing their best self to whatever communication situation they're in.

I work a lot around executive presence, which is, in the communication realm, bringing both warmth and strength to whatever stage you're on. So, the warmth is bringing the best parts of your personality, the parts when you are with family and friends and you are feeling confident and conversational and fluid and give great eye contact and storytelling and humor. All those wonderful things, together with your strength, together with your years of experience and your expertise. That really conveys confidence.

People are looking at you from the moment that you enter into the corporate setting or the moment that you start your business. The way you come across is absolutely essential. So, within one one-thousandth of a second, people are judging you. They try and create a first impression of you within the first seven seconds. Believe me, this is not a long period of time. If people aren't sure about how they feel about you, they will spend the next 30-60 seconds going through what I call a "laundry list" in their head about you.

It can be everything from, "Wow, she's looking down at the floor. I know it's a pretty rug, but why isn't she looking at me? She says she's delighted to be here, but she's saying this in a monotone. So, it doesn't seem like she's really delighted to be here." "His shoulders are shaped like an orangutan. He really doesn't look like he wants to be here. There's no smile. There's no facial animation. This is going to be really boring. I don't know that I could invest my money or my time or any other capital with this individual because he or she doesn't carry themselves in the way that connotes confidence."

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