In John Baldoni’s latest book on leadership, titled Lead by Example, lesson nine is the one of 50 lessons he offers that resonates most strongly with me. It is about communication. Baldoni writes:

Communication is rarely a given; it must always be put into practice. It has become a cliché unfortunately. One of the leading causes of organizational underperformance is a failure of communications. Often that failure has little to do with words. It has everything to do with attitude and outlook…It comes down to the essence of what communication from a leader really is. And that is connection. It is a leader’s responsibility to be present to give direction, listen to what people have to say, seek input from others, and learn what could or should be done.

Baldoni gives excellent examples of communication from the actions of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and many others. The book has been well received. T&D (March 2009) wrote this about Lead by Example:

While your bookshelves may already be stuffed with books on leadership, make room for Lead by Example. Each three- to five- page lesson is filled with leadership insight and anecdotes, qualifying it as an attainable read for even the busiest professional.

Baldoni has produced an excellent compilation of the characteristics, in practical form, of good leadership. If we could get leaders to pay attention to just one of these, communication, that would go a long way to improving the performance of our organizations. In the current economy, with the failure of so many companies, this need is greater now than ever. Employees, suppliers, shareholders, and the general public desperately need leaders who communicate with authenticity, consistency, and clarity.

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