Good leaders understand the importance of open channels of communication going in both directions between leaders and followers. An effective leader must be able to clearly express what is needed within an organization, and be able to listen actively when others are conveying information back to him. Without these skills, there will be a disconnect between leadership and the rank and file that will detract from the effectiveness of the organization.
Communication and Leadership
True leaders understand that, rather than forcing their followers into a preconceived mold, their job is to motivate and organize followers to collectively accomplish goals that are in everyone's interests. The ability to communicate this to co-workers and followers is critical to the effectiveness of leadership. A leader who understands these concepts but is unable to share them with others will be a leader with no followers. A leader with a genius for diplomacy is able to convey concepts in such a way that others are receptive to them. A master of diplomatic communication can leave others with the impression that they came up with the concepts themselves.
Superior leaders are able to devote their skills and energies to leadership of a group because they have worked through personal issues to the point where they know themselves thoroughly. A high level of self-knowledge is a prerequisite to effective communication skills, because the things that you communicate as a leader are coming from within. Knowing yourself to the extent that you can distinguish personal agendas from legitimate group and leadership goals will prevent your leadership from becoming an exercise in egotism. True leaders are able to subvert their own preferences to the interests of the group that they are leading.
This subversion of personal preference requires a certain level of humility. Although popular definitions of leaders do not always see them as humble, the most effective leaders actually are. This humility may not be expressed in self-effacement, but in a total commitment to the goals of the organization. Humility requires an understanding of one's own relative unimportance in comparison to larger systems. Valuing service over personal aggrandizement is a sign of maturity and humility, and is a quality that many effective leaders epitomize. When a person achieves a state of true humility, he is able to visualize, act upon and communicate necessities to the group he is leading.
Clarity of thinking translates into clarity of communication. A leader whose goals or personal analysis is muddled will tend to deliver unclear or ambiguous directions to followers, leading to confusion and dissatisfaction. A leader with a clear mind who is not ambivalent about her purposes will communicate what needs to be done in a straightforward and unmistakable manner. People who manifest strong leadership will help to generate clear thinking in their followers as well, as unambiguous goals are pursued throughout the organization.