Ideas & Debate

Communicating well critical for good leadership

The issue is that the quality of one’s verbal communication is a key factor in determining the extent to which those listening will be able to easily absorb the messages. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The issue is that the quality of one’s verbal communication is a key factor in determining the extent to which those listening will be able to easily absorb the messages. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A column I wrote in April 2008 reported on a BBC radio programme that analysed how Britain’s then Prime Minister Gordon Brown came across in the media – which was not at all well. The poor fellow had a hard act to follow, I noted, for the man who occupied No.10 before him was that consummate public performer, Tony Blair.

But even without resorting to such a challenging comparison Mr. Brown appeared dull and boring. He made heavy weather with his language, in the manner of a technocrat, a boffin, a “policy wonk”, lacking a touch that resonated with his audience.

My article also eulogised the emergence of the exciting Obama, then still a Senator, but mostly I wrote about the need for our politicians to be coached into becoming more articulate and inspiring. In passing I drew attention to the fact that technocrats, business leaders and others who appear before the media must equally learn to put across their cases effectively. Which leads me to my theme for today, the way the Supreme Court judges read their full judgments on the presidential election petition.

The reactions to those that were below par have been mixed. Some expressed disappointment, while others urged us to just focus on the intended meaning of their messages without worrying about the elegance with which they were delivered.