Communication and Leadership – Can they ever be separated? Anthony Semann: Director of Semann and Slattery- Research and Consultancy Service.

A number of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet, and listen to Anthony Semann when he presented at the Leadership for Community Engagement Program funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Southern Metropolitan Region, Victoria, Australia, jointly with Noah’s Ark Inc, of which I am a participant.

Anthony’s presentation focused on communication, and referred to a number of theorists, however, it was his personal experiences, and anecdotes which ‘grabbed’ my attention. There were so many ideas presented, and I’m sharing the ideas which made me reflect.

Rather than write this formally, I’ve decided to record the points I found significant for me. Others present may have taken away different thoughts, as we all take on new learning at our ‘point of need’ and construct our knowledge differently.

Anthony’s Ideas, Quotes and Anecdotes:

  • Leadership has to be contextual; it has to relate to your communication. Timing your communication is crucial. All good intentions put aside, we need to think about timing. ‘Windows of time offer us a gift’, and we need to look for these ‘windows of opportunity’.
  • Anthony also spoke about a mirror, and what we  see in a mirror. How do we look to others? Is the leadership driven by ego? Thinking of ‘a mirror’ reminds people of what other’s see, as you need to care about what people think about you – to be heard!
  • When communicating, you can control what you say, but not what is heard … you can question to clarify.
  • Positioning yourself to be heard – passion can take over. How can you communicate with integrity? Integrity is vital to high level communication. ‘No knowledge is neutral’.
  • In our meeting structures, we don’t always ‘create a space’ for communication. A lot of the communication is a ‘dump’ of administration etc. ‘ Cull agendas! Talk about pedagogy and good practice…’ Everyone can talk, otherwise ‘it can be discrimitive’.
  • Question yourselves: Does my communication and body language serve me well?
  • How should leadership look like in your sector? What do we want from our leaders? How will we know the impact or effectiveness of our sector’s leadership? Anthony brought up the notion that there is a ‘dark side’ to leadership, and that we can all slip into this. Don’t!

How would you answer these Identity Questions?

  • I am a leader who desires….
  • I am a leader who finds strength in…
  • I am a leader who is fearful of…
  • Understand the ‘intentionality of leadership’. Truly develop an understanding of the effect your communication has on you, and the impact you have on others. Think of the ‘human spirit’. Understand Emotional Intelligence. ‘It’s not what is said, it’s what’s not said’. This is something we all need to reflect on…

A leader serves by making / giving:

  • Freedom
  • Agency
  • Power

Anthony used the words of Heifetz & Linsky 2009,

Both your survival and your success depend on your skill at reaching a true understanding of the varying perspectives among the factions. Learn from their stakes and fears. As social workers say, ‘Start where people are at.’. . . After hearing their stories, you need to take the provocative step of making an interpretation that gets below the surface. You have to listen to the song beneath the words.”  

  • He also introduced a pie graph to us made up of 1/3 the Head, 1/3 the Heart and 1/3 the Hand. Think, Feel, and Behave! He reminded us of ‘talk to me, not about me, make people accountable for their actions, voice and ask yourself as many questions as you ask others. Leaders need to put ‘feathers in other’s backs, not take away. Put a feather in someone’s back each day, so they can fly’.

And finally, ‘Trust, and be life-giving, not life depleting and when you’re having success share it!

Anthony knows that I’m sharing his presentation here, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for giving those who attended such a valuable insight into communication and leadership.

To answer Anthony’s initial question: Leadership and Communication – Can they ever be separated? The answer is clearly ‘no’!

My finishing comment is: Anthony’s messages relate to all communication in life, not just that of leaders! 

Sorry this took so long to post, Anthony! Thanks again!

Cheers Nina

Addition: Have been reading Mark Walker’s Blog – excellent article on Leadership. Link: http://mwalker.com.au/?p=1653  Worth spending some time in his space.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Communication and Leadership – Can they ever be separated? Anthony Semann: Director of Semann and Slattery- Research and Consultancy Service.

  1. nina davis

    Reblogged this on Nina's Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom and commented:

    Sometimes it good to revisit something you’ve written… a reflection.

  2. Pingback: 2011 – Me, the constructivist, teacher, learner, seeker of answers and maker of questions – One year on…. | Nina's Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

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