Characteristic #42: Great Communicator (Part 3)

By | December 24, 2013

[December 24, 2013]  In Part 1 and 2 of this series on great communicators, the idea that people skills, passion, and credibility are vital to successful communications was proposed.

In this final Part 3, the discussion will be on clarity and listening ability as another two of these five factors.  The others are discussed here and here.

As a reminder, there are five major components of the most effective communicators:

  • People Skills (external)
  • Passion (internal)
  • Credibility
  • Clarity
  • Listening Ability

Clarity1: The ability to take complex, confusing subjects and translate them into coherent, understandable points is an important talent.  And, it is difficult to learn.  The great communicator however is able to do this in-stride, without much thought because this is a practiced attribute.

Criticism of this ability is commonplace, because may appear that leaders are oversimplifying.  It is imperative, however, that leaders are able to fully articulate their needs of the organization.  Sometimes this means not dwelling on the minor issues but focusing on the more important subject.

Clarity requires focus.  Without the ability to put issues into context of its worth, means that leaders will have difficulty handling large amounts of and complex information.  Intelligence of the leader helps but is not a prerequisite.

Listening Ability2: The keys to listening is the ability to “connect” with people.  This means understanding people and knowing the psychology of how humans operate, especially in your organizational field of expertise.  Being open minded, empathetic, and respectful will go a long way to helping the great communicator.

It also means have a keen sense of observation.  Noticing small clues like facial expressions and understanding the nuances of language, enables the leader to “read” and understand better where people are coming from.  By doing so, the leader can win the hearts of the audience.

The Five Components: The greatest leaders possess all five components of effective communications.  Senior leaders that are truly great are the ones who have fine-tuned this ability to a high degree.  This takes effort and many hours of social interaction – making the trait “appear” to be a natural ability.

Communication is also very dependent upon the context and the culture in which it occurs.  There are social norms (i.e., societal morés) that “bend and distort” these components but, as always, the basics are the same.

Great leaders are greatest communicators.



[2]  Also called “active listening.”  See:



Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.