The Language of Leaders
How Top CEOs Communicate to Inspire, Influence and Achieve Results
By Kevin Murray
One household name CEO asked the author what he could possibly hope to add to the already vast library of books on leadership. Reading this enthralling book the answer comes across very clearly and is fundamentally rooted in the experience and career of the author himself.
Leadership is about strategy, tactics, organization, inspiration and the rest, but the glue that holds it all together and elevates the best leaders is their ability to communicate. “Great leaders communicate tirelessly and it is their skill at listening and talking” that both inspires us and keeps us “passionately connected to their vision” in good times and bad, says Kevin Murray.
The Language of Leaders is a unique contribution, both in seeing leadership from this communication perspective, and in being based on the author’s extraordinary access to some of the business world’s most prominent leaders. Interviews with 60 Chairmen, Senior Partners, CEOs, Generals and Police Commissioners provide invaluable insights to how leaders operate in an increasingly complex and transparent world and how clear and honest communication can inspire, facilitate innovation and change, and hold organizations together in times of crisis.
Kevin Murray has almost 40 years’ experience in communications, including appointments as Director of Communications of British Airways, Director of Corporate Affairs at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, and currently as Chairman of The Bell Pottinger Group, perhaps the best know of all internationally focused public relations companies. Kevin has spent much of his career advising and coaching CEOs and Chairmen of global corporations – often guiding them through extremely difficult situations.
The book opens with the story of the battle of Jena and how Napoleon (sadly not interviewed
here in person) defeated the mighty Prussian army by creating ‘leaders everywhere’; leaders that in the ‘fog-of-war’ could take their own independent decisions so long as they understood the senior leader’s intent and the mission’s ultimate objective. Napoleon’s genius was to understand that ‘command and control’, passing orders down the line, was not enough, and that communicating a ‘vision’ was the key to great leadership.
Moving from 1806 to modern times, but still bearing Napoleon’s legacy in mind, the book
takes us through three key stages. First it explains why a leader needs to be a better communicator if he or she wants to succeed; secondly it looks at the foundations for creating a leadership language, such as: having confidence in your own strengths, building trust, building relationships, engaging through conversations; and thirdly it examines the skills and techniques needed to communicate effectively both inside and outside the organization: audience centricity, listening for solutions, finding a point of view, the power of stories, the importance of body language and symbolic acts, ensuring right preparation, etc.
The Language of Leaders is a ‘must read’ for anyone in a leadership position or with
aspirations to lead. And, echoing the Napoleonic axiom ‘leaders everywhere’, a book of real value to managers at all levels. As the author says it may not hold all of the answers but it will focus readers on the key areas they need to think about and develop to become fluent in the language of leaders – a language that is indispensable to any leader in today’s increasingly fast moving, complex and transparent world.