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“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” — Theodore Roosevelt

There’s an adage about leadership that goes like this: leadership is a lot like trying to maneuver cooked spaghetti noodles—hard to push, but you can pull ‘em anywhere you want.

Leading effectively is not solely about vision and knowing the way, it is also—and more importantly—about showing the way.

And this is where communication plays a critical role.

It’s not enough to know where and why changes need to be made in whatever organization you might be leading. You need to be able to communicate your rationale clearly and completely to those who are charged with implementing those changes.

The recent U.S. Executive Order regarding a travel ban on seven countries is a case in point: an exercise in poor communication and, consequently, an even poorer roll-out.

I wrote to a friend who supports the new U.S. President: “Would you, as an experienced consultant, recommend to any CEO that he/she issue a change in policy within their organization without any advance communication about, preparation or plan for execution of those changes prior to them occurring? Of course not. It’s a plan for failure, confusion and chaos.”

Confusion, criticism and chaos are the natural by-products of poorly communicated plans, whether at home or on the job.

My father had an adage, too, with which I was raised. An avid woodworker in his spare time who built our summer cottage with his own strong hands (along with the tiny hands of his six children), we were taught from an early age to “measure twice and cut once.”

I suggest it applies just as well to people-communication as it does to wood-cutting.

Whether you lead a family, a company, or a nation.

“Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.” — Gilbert Amelio President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.



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