Leadership Communication

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Leadership communication:
A status report
Received (in revised form): 8th February, 2002

David Clutterbuck
is chairman of item, which he co-founded 19 years ago, making him one of the most experienced consultants and practitioners in the internal communications business. He is a visiting professor at Sheffield Business School and a frequent speaker on communication subjects all over the world. He has also researched and written widely on management and strategic issues, with over 40 book titles to his name, including ‘The Winning Streak’, ‘Everyone Needs a Mentor’ and ‘Doing it Different’.

Sheila Hirst
is an executive director of item and head of consultancy. She entered the internal communication profession in 1989, having previously worked in sales and marketing with Citibank. At item Sheila has been responsible for change and communication programmes with ASDA, Royal Bank of Scotland and Littlewoods among many. She has also worked in-house as director of internal communications and change for a global telecomms company undergoing significant change. Sheila is on the board of the International Association of Business Communicators.

Abstract Although management is often viewed as distinct from, and sometimes inferior to, leadership, the two share a number of core competencies. Communication is central to the main four management competencies outlined by Warren Bennis: the management of attention, meaning, trust and self. To be truly effective, both leaders and managers must develop their self-awareness, become role models for communication in the organisation, and learn to encourage and manage constructive dissent. An important part of the communication professional’s role is to support the organisation’s leaders and managers in developing their communication competence.

KEYWORDS: leadership, strategy, vision, management, communication competence, skills development

David Clutterbuck
The ITEM Group plc,
Burnham House,
High Street, Burnham,
Bucks SL1 7JZ, UK;
Tel: +44 (0)1628 601400;
Fax: +44 (0)1628 667155;
E-mail:
dclutterbuck@item.co.uk

There are more books, articles and
dissertations on leadership than any other
topic of management. The sheer volume
of research and writing about the concept
of leadership tells us that this is not a topic
that is easily defined, nor one where there
will be a great deal of consensus. From
Machiavelli1 to Townsend,2 Tannenbaum3
to Harvey-Jones,4 there is very little
agreement on just what makes an effective
leader.
Just about the one thing almost all these
authorities agree upon, however, is that
effective leaders are also effective
communicators. (The reverse is not

# Henry Stewart Publications 1363–254X (2002)

Vol. 6, 4 351–354

necessarily agreed upon — good
communicators do not necessarily make
good leaders.)
Perhaps the best-known writer on
leadership issues in modern times is
Warren Bennis,5 whose attempts to
distinguish between leadership and
management have been so badly
understood. Among a number of
distinguishing factors between
management and leadership, which he
defines, are:
— the manager focuses on systems and
structure; the leader focuses on people

Journal of Communication Management

351

Clutterbuck and Hirst

— the manager imitates; the leader innovates
— the manager accepts the status quo; the
leader challenges it
— the manager’s eye is on the bottom line;
the leader’s eye is on the horizon
— the manager does things right; the leader
does the right thing

The problem with these broad statements
is not that they are inaccurate — they
strike very strong chords of realism — but
that several generations of managers have
been brought up to believe that being a
manager is somehow inferior to being a
leader. The reality is that management and
leadership are inextricably linked. A truly
excellent leader requires good management
skills, and the best managers are also
leaders to some...
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