Nelson Mandela: Consummate Communicator

Nelson Mandela: Consummate Communicator

“Let there be peace for all. Let there be justice for all. The sun shall never set on such a glorious human achievement.” – Nelson Mandela

We join the rest of the world to celebrate the incredible impact and legendary life of Nelson Mandela. While much can be said about his character, his integrity, his leadership and his vision, the world is also losing a tremendous communicator. A trailblazer, peacemaker, leader and role model, we thank Nelson Mandela for the infinite lessons– among them, how to be a better communicator.

6 Communications Lessons We Can Learn from Nelson Mandela:

  1. Be Authentic. Genuine, sincere, Nelson Mandela could really make people care. He was the same man behind the podium as he was one-on-one, embodying authenticity. Don’t make the mistake of being generic, and don’t let your polish gloss over your passion. Be yourself.
  2. Be Influential. Every opportunity to speak to someone is an opportunity to influence. While in prison, Nelson Mandela insisted on respect from the prison guards and other prisoners. From there, he was able to influence them to his perspective. Recognize the opportunity to be influential.
  3. Maintain Humble Confidence. Even in the later part of Nelson Mandela’s life, after he had already proved his stripes as an international leader, he never let it get to his head. Exemplified in this clip from his interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Nelson Mandela kept his focus on his team and his collaborators. Be confident – and stay humble.
  4. Smile: Likability Earns Support. Close your eyes and picture Nelson Mandela. Is he smiling? Of course he is. Humanitarian efforts aside, his likability contributed to his success. He had energy in his voice and face, and a smile on his face – even when discussing the heavy memories of brutality. As described in New York Times, “He shook every hand as if he was discovering a new friend and maintained a twinkle in his eye that said: this is fun.” Be likable – it will contribute to your success.
  5. Don’t Forget to Say Thank You. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to say thank you. It communicates gratitude, encouragement and positive reinforcement. During his first public speech after over 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was greeted to thunderous applause. Though his remarks were short, he started by saying thank you, and he closed by saying thank you. Remember your listeners – and never forget to thank them.
  6. Change is a Process: Keep Focusing on Continuous Improvement. Nelson Mandela worked tirelessly to create change. Ending apartheid was a long battle, as was leading South Africa. Nelson Mandela even retired from retirement to champion new causes, foundations, funds, and scholarships. Change is a process. There is always something for each of us to work on – personally and professionally. Never stop making improvements.

May he rest in peace, and may his legacy live on.

 

Listen Up: It’s Time for The Big Dance

Ever give instructions to a group and the voice in the back of your head says, “they’ll know what I mean”? Well, that doesn’t always work. Even when you’re working with the best people. It happened in our office just this week when we set up our Decker Team Tournament … Continue reading

We’re Exci-TED.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: TED Conference Time. As participants in #TED2013 Live, we’ve been privy to this year’s ideas worth spreading. With so many ideas (over 84 different talks in 4 days) – which ones do we remember most? Those that were well-communicated, of course. Fact: … Continue reading

Emotion and Story Rule

You’ve heard us say it before, and we’ll say it again: People buy on emotion and justify with fact. There’s no better place to watch emotions unfold than on the Super Bowl, and it’s no surprise to us that the commercials that stood out were the ones that got us … Continue reading

Achieving Leadership and Collaboration

We launched Decker Communications to transform people’s lives – a mission that remains the same today. Having held CEO leadership since founding the company in 1979, I take pride in the fact that we have helped hundreds of thousands of people improve their communications skills and lives. As Chairman of … Continue reading

Insights from a Speaking Immersion…

For three days last week I heard (and experienced) over 100 leaders speaking to an audience of 11,000 – including a couple dozen Senators and Representatives, Presidential candidates, authors, celebrities, and news anchors. (Most of the videos are available here.) It was an amazing experience at CPAC. This post is purely … Continue reading

The Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2011

Our Top Ten Communicators List is all about Trust and Vision. Happily, we start with the Best list, where we honor those who communicate and lead well. Unfortunately, those who dominate the Worst list have garnered most of the attention in 2011 – for lack of trust on the high … Continue reading

Nominate for the Top 10 & win a seat in our program!

Fall is here (though, we San Franciscans consider this summer), Q4 is wrapping up, and so begins the planning for end-of-year. For Decker, that means narrowing and locking in the short list of Top 10 Best and Worst Communicators of 2011. Here’s the fun twist – you can nominate! And, … Continue reading

The Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2010

This Annual List of Top Ten Communicators of 2010 highlights the best (and worst) from business, politics (big this year), entertainment, sports and the professions. Take a look to see how communication skills helped make or break these notable individuals: The 10 Best 1. Sebastián Piñera – Excellence above and … Continue reading

Obama Speech More of the Same

President Obama gave a speech tonight – second one from the Oval Office in his 19 months in office. It was a yawner. What’s going on here? First of all I want to confess I’ve not reviewed Obama recently because he basically is the same. In delivery. Think of teleprompter, … Continue reading