The fourth type of leadership communicator is again one part visionary, another part expert, but this individual leans toward the visionary. He or she is the transformer: The mission is to persuade—to change minds. Transformers also are one part visionary. They know where they want to take their people, and they apply their selling skills to convince people to come along with them. The transformer as a leader-presenter is one who has both the information and the conviction to persuade the listener to her or his point of view.
Think of a successful salesperson. Think of the words that come to mind when you think of such an individual: knowledgeable, personable, willing to take questions, patient, and persistent. All of these are qualities that salespeople—and presenters who want to persuade others—need to have in abundance.
Keep in mind that your leadership communication style may vary from situation to situation. One day you may need to be the expert, adhering to the organizational mission. Other times, you may act as the coach, willing to advise, but careful to let the audience make up its own mind. And still other times, you may be communicating in all four modes, depending upon the situation.
The third type of leadership communicator is a combination of the previous two—part visionary and part expert. We call this type of leader the coach. The coach is a collaborator, the one who is called upon by virtue of her or his expertise in a particular subject. Coaches are those who change organizations one person at a time. They look for the unique way to communicate to an individual by discovering what motivates that person, e.g., more money, advancement, or prestige. Once the coach learns the motivational point, he or she can leverage it to help the person succeed.
More and more management, and by extension leadership, involves coaching. Why? Leaders are evaluated on the results of their people. It is up to the leader to enable the team to succeed. Success depends upon communication, as the leader must determine what people need and how the leader can deliver it.
Leader-coaches must adjust their focus throughout the day to address the needs of individuals as well as the needs of the team.
The second type of leadership communicator is what we call the visionary. Visionaries are those leaders whose ardent belief in their cause outweighs their words. Their speaking style comes from deep within, from their inner core values. Their mission is to persuade, to change points of view. And their leadership does not stop when the words do. Rather, it continues in the conduct of their daily lives.
In our context, the visionary has a passion that supercedes spoken words. The message itself is always in what the speaker says—as it is with the expert—but what gives it power is the leader's conviction concerning the cause. The visionary as a leader-presenter is consumed with passion. He or she believes in the cause and wants others to embrace it.
The first type of leadership communicator is the expert, or the keeper of the mission. The expert holds to the organization's mission—what the organization is and how it conducts business. Experts base their decision making on facts and their relationship to the business environment—how the company can anticipate and capitalize on market opportunities.
Corporate leaders, too, can be experts. They also keep close tabs on their human resources, always evaluating whether they have the right people doing the jobs and what they need to do to develop the next generation of leaders.