If there is a single key to powerful communication, it’s integrity. Unsurprisingly, integrity is also an essential of leadership.
The internet is full of all kinds of “tips and tricks” and even smart apps to help you communicate better, or to be more influential. These are wonderful, to a point, but in the end, it’s rather like putting lipstick on a pig-- the pig may feel prettier and the lipstick guy will make some money, but you still have a pig.
"Tips and tricks" won't do it-- to become a powerful communicator, you need to get down to basics, and the basics have to do with character. Very simply, if you don’t have integrity, you will never be a powerful communicator, nor a leader worth following.
Why is this?
Let’s consider what “integrity” really means. The word derives from “integer” which comes to us from the Latin, meaning “untouched”. From the idea of “untouched” come concepts of purity, comprehensiveness, entirety, and completeness.
We speak, for instance, of the structural integrity of a building and the financial integrity of a bank. By that we mean they possess no flaws which would lead to a collapse under stress. They “have it together”, if you like.
So, integrity is more than just not lying about the cherry tree-- it’s about the stuff of which you’re made, it’s about wholeness of the person, it’s about consistency over time. This kind of integrity is what gives you credibility, and credibility, ultimately, gives you the power to move mountains.
This explains why leaders such as Gandhi, Thatcher, Mandela, Lincoln, and Churchill were able to achieve so much-- their words flowed from deep-rooted integrity. They weren’t constantly re-calibrating and testing the wind, because true leaders don’t respond to events, they make events. We listen to leaders and follow them because of this kind of integrity.
We need more men and women of integrity. Will you be one?
(No Canadians were on the list because we're saving the very special Sir John A. Macdonald for the Friday morning before Canada Day. Watch for him!)
Norman Bowley is a communicator by passion, a lawyer and educator by profession. Thirty-six years of legal practice after ten years as an educator have equipped Norm to teach professionals how to communicate effectively and with power.