When connecting with an audience, Hillary Clinton leads with the head while Donald Trump comes from the heart: both hold lessons for today leaders.
Watching Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the US presidential debates, it is striking to observe the difference in communication styles between the candidates; indeed they seem to use two diametrically opposing ways of connecting with their audience. The question is which style works best for a would-be world leader? And what can leaders in other walks of life learn from these two very different communicators?
When it comes to analysing the communication style of the two presidential candidates, it is important to remember that both have gone through serious media training that has helped them soften the rougher edges. We also need to take into account that stress and pressure – and running for president of US certainly creates a fair amount of both – have the tendency to lead to more exaggerated negative behaviours unless very deliberately controlled.
We all have our range of individual and personal communication features that influence our preferred style of communication; the way we transmit, deliver, receive and interpret information. There are four main communication preference styles, as outlined in the Communication Preference Styles Survey (CPSS), a diagnostic tool, developed by Ian C. Woodward, INSEAD Senior Affiliate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, to compare individual communication style preferences.
These styles are reflected in the language and words we use, the topics we choose to talk about, the nonverbal signals we give and the voice tone we project, as well as our overall approach to connecting with other people.
About the Author
Dr. Katharina Balazs is associate professor of management at the European School of Management (ESCP Europe) in Paris, France, and executive coach with the INSEAD Global Leadership Center in France and Singapore. Katharina’s expertise is in leadership, focusing on women leaders, leadership communication, power and influence, high performance teams and organisational change.