April 22, 2009
Let’s see what we can learn about leadership with respect to communicating in the public eye. In this paper,
The Qualities of Leadership: Direction, Communication, and Obfuscation by Torun Dewan and David P Myatt (American Political Science Review, 102(3), pp. 351–368, August 2008), the researchers explored the difference between how a leader communicates with clarity versus correctness, and how that affects the masses in the political realm.
What is leadership? What is good leadership? … Answers emerge from our study… These leaders bridge differences of opinion and become coordinating focal points. A leader’s influence increases with her judgement (her sense of direction) and her ability to convey ideas (her clarity of communication). A leader with perfect clarity enjoys greater influence than one with a perfect sense of direction. When followers choose how much attention to pay to leaders, they listen only to the most coherent communicators.
The APSR co-editors adds this summary note, “… A public who cares mainly about unity might thus listen to a leader who states his policy clearly even though it could very well be wrong. A public who cares mainly about the correct policy would rather listen to a less clear but more correct leader.”
What do you think? Does a leader have to choose between communicating clearly and correctly? How can a leader do both consistently?
Link to this article: