23 Jun

Do You Communicate to Lead?

During your professional career you have probably managed a tremendous amount of communication, whether on the phone, by email, or when asked to make a convincing presentation. But once you attain a certain level of leadership, that responsibility demands a whole new set of communication skills.

If you are wondering why you haven’t been recognized and promoted sooner – or are waiting for your next big break to catapult you to a higher level of influence, prestige, and income – then this article is for you.

Or perhaps you have already been promoted, but your confidence is still a bit shaky. That can happen even to seasoned leaders, especially when you find yourself in the hot seat and need to be persuasive, but gracefully poised, as senior decision makers pepper you with questions.

Communication skills are one of those tools that you must continually upgrade, as a lifelong learning process. But no matter what stage of development you are at right now, the following tips can help make you more polished, professional, and adept as a leadership communicator.

Behind-the-Scenes Selling

The difference between ordinary leadership and the kind that gets you promoted all the way to the top is that outstanding, influential leaders don’t just communicate in their official capacity or from behind the podium.

  • The most effective leaders communicate nonstop, behind the scenes, to sell the performance of their division, department, employees, and teams.
  • They are always collecting data, crunching numbers, documenting metrics and benchmarks, and looking for new angles and narratives to promote the fact that they are productive high-performers.
  • You cannot just pull those kinds of facts out of thin air on the spur of the moment and weave them together into a coherent pitch. You’ve got to constantly curate information and build your case.
  • But if you do that, you’ll be able to take full advantage of every opportunity and chance encounter with a decision maker, to make those you lead look stellar ready for executive promotion.

Develop that kind of communication capability and it automatically makes you look like an asset that the organization has to promote with greater responsibility to avoid wasting your uniquely valuable talent and strategic skill.

Bridge-Building Communication

Another kind of higher level communication involves initiating and nurturing trusted connections with business partners, customers and other industry movers and shakers.

Who are your leadership role models? Do they communicate new ideas and inspiration to you through trade magazine articles they write? Or do you hear from them via their blog or keynote speeches that they deliver at business conferences?

Whatever they are doing to get your attention and act as your leader, you need to start doing too – to advance yourself up to that level of leadership influence and credibility.

If you don’t know how – or where to begin – find resources and professionals who can show you the ropes. Even if you start small, that kind of communication adds up quickly over time, and soon you’ll have an entire portfolio of leadership material that highlights your executive presence and expertise.

Predictable Promotion Exercise

  • Drawing upon the information in the above article, sit down and list five ways you can boost your executive presence through innovative leadership communication
  • Pick one to work on this month, and then add another next month – until you have all of them implemented within the next 3-6 months.

Questions? Success stories to share? After you start working on these higher level leadership communication strategies, let me know what’s working for you and what obstacles you might be encountering. Maybe I can address those in a future article.


As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified image master (CIM) and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.

Illustra Consulting
Copyright © 2015, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIM, CPBS 1-800-267-3245, [email protected]

This article may be reproduced only in it’s entirety, including the above bio.


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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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Copyright © 2020, Sarah Hathorn, All rights reserved.
800-267-3245, [email protected]

This article may be reproduced only in its entirety, including the above bio.
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