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Strong communication skills a must for today’s leaders

Deborah J. Barrett (Teaches Leadership Communication at Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, in Houston, Texas. She can be reached at

Handbook of Business Strategy

ISSN: 1077-5730

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




This article is designed to help senior managers be better leaders by being better communicators. The article explains my original concept of “leadership communication” and provides an original framework to help map out the levels of communication ability business leaders need, including developing a positive ethos and emotional intelligence.


The objectives are achieved by providing specific and practical definitions and illustrations. The article is based on research on leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence and on extensive experience coaching and working with executives.


I found that the best business leaders share similar, specific characteristics of good communication that fall into three major groups: core (strategy, writing, speaking), managerial (emotional intelligence, listening, coaching, teams, meetings), and corporate (communicating with all internal and external stakeholders).

Research limitations/implications

Future research could include further developing the leadership communication concept by adding to the framework as I discover other major capabilities needed by business leaders.

Practical implications

All managers can apply my definition of leadership communication and my framework. I have witnessed the improvement managers can make in their leadership ability by focusing on the communication capabilities discussed in my article.


My concept, definition, and framework are all new. The value is in helping managers improve their communication abilities and recognize the importance of emotional intelligence in effective business communication. It is important for all managers and for teachers/coaches who work with them as well.



Barrett, D.J. (2006), "Strong communication skills a must for today’s leaders", Handbook of Business Strategy, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 385-390.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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