The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation, and communication.
Michael Faraday FRS (22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was a British scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and electrolysis.
Let us analyze the individual contribution of each one of the skills mentioned above in entrepreneurial success. To begin with, I have taken the liberty to address the last one first viz. ‘communication.’ Moving forward we shall address innovation, organization, discrimination, and then, concentration.
“Communication: It is the first thing we really learn in life. Funny thing is, once we grow up, learn our words, and really start talking, the harder it becomes to know what to say. Or how to ask for what we really need.” –Meredith Grey.
Believe it, or not, the above quote is from a fictional character in the medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy, hosted by ABC in the U.S. However, the value of the statement is hard to overlook since it brings home a very precious lesson. We can all relate to the truth as we often face challenging situations that demand skillful communication. The most challenging part of the process is the legwork we must do before we can actually start to address the situation. Naturally, our overall ability to concentrate on the issue or issues at hand, the power to focus on the main points through discrimination of essentials, the orderly organization of necessary supporting elements, as well as innovative engagement techniques shall see us come out a winner.
At this stage, I cannot but help look at the suggestion of my research team. I would like to share with my discerning readers, one of the most important messages that we must all imbibe to be successful. This quote comes from Joseph L. Badaracco. He is a professor of Business ethics at Harvard Business School. He is also a Senior Associate Dean, Chair, MBA Program. This is what he has to say about communication:
“Communication can’t always follow the top-down model. With the fluidity of information in business today, leaders need to be masterful listeners; they need to be able to receive as well as send.”
No wonder Prof. Badaracco has stressed on the significance of 2-way communication where listening plays as important a role as talking. Until and unless we paid attention to the views, ideas, questions, concerns, and/or requests, all we of our words shall end up a monologue. Such an act can be compared to a speech delivered by someone at a higher pedestal, but the same never comes close to communication.
It is the interactive component of a dialogue that helps create value in thoughts, ideas, and/or information so exchanged. We are born with one mouth but two ears. This goes to signify the need for double the amount of listening we must practice than the amount of talking we do. Irrespective of our role as a leader, captain, owner or boss, we must have the wisdom to listen to our followers, advisors, team members. This unique trait in our interaction with others holds a vast resource of capabilities we may never acquire by ourselves.
“The communication style of leaders helps us distinguish great leaders from the wannabes. When facing a problem, the great leader says, ‘Let’s find out,’ while the wannabe says that ‘nobody knows.’ Great leaders communicate commitment while wannabe leaders make promises. Great leaders have the capacity to listen while wannabes cannot wait for their turn to talk. Great leaders say ‘there is a better way to do this, while wannabes say: this is the way we have always done things around here.” –Reed Markham, Ph.D.
Markham is an associate professor in communication at Daytona State College and received the Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology at the 19th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning. Markham was a speechwriter for the United States Supreme Court. He served as president of the Board of Trustees for Regents College and on the Board of Trustees for the University College of the Caribbean. He was a member of the International Olympic Committee News Service and carried the Olympic Torch for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
We have another valuable advice from Prof. Markham that relates to strategic communication, strategic because of its role as the indispensable tool in the life of an enterprise, its growth, as well as overall effectiveness:
“Strategic communication is at the core of effective leadership. Through a leader’s use of verbal and written symbols, employees are motivated or deflated, informed or confused, productive or apathetic. A leader’s ability to carve off the verbal fat and get to the meat of an issue, idea, or plan will find success at every turn.”
Please allow me to borrow yet another powerful quote from Marye C. Tharp. Her practical experience includes advertising agency work in New York and San Antonio and consultancies with public and private organizations. Her research focused on the U.S. Hispanic market has been presented at international conferences and in refereed journals and books.
“Any communication or marketing professional needs cross-cultural research and communication skills to be able to succeed in the future.”
Sensitivity to other people’s cultural values is an immensely powerful tool in the hands of effective communicators. Taking the time to indulge in cross-cultural research helps one communicate in an easily portable mode of communication, without unnecessarily raising any eyebrows.
“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” –Sydney J. Harris.
Harris began his newspaper career with the Chicago Herald and Examiner and studied Philosophy at the University of Chicago. After university, he became a drama critic (1941) and a columnist for the Chicago Daily News (1944). He held those positions until the paper’s demise in 1978 and continued to write his column for its sister paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, until his death in 1986.
“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.” -Edward R. Murrow.
Just because spreading false information has become so much more comfortable, with the advent and growth of the Internet, we must exercise extreme caution in our communication. One misstatement can land us in unforeseen trouble, beyond repair.
Ona lighter, and yet equally powerful note, let us consider the following message from Dave Barry: “The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.”
David McAlister Barry is an American author and columnist who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comic novels.
To explore further the fantastic power of communication, let us consider the following words from Tommy Lasorda:
“I motivate players through communication, being honest with them, having them respect and appreciate your ability and your help.”
Thomas Charles Lasorda is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who is best known for his two decades as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Source
“Good communication does not mean that you have to speak in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs. It is not about slickness. Simple and clear go a long way.” –John Kotter
John Paul Kotter is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School, a New York Times best-selling author, and the founder of Kotter International.
Ona final note, let us consider the words of Napoleon Bonaparte:
“The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.”
We shall be covering concentration, discrimination, organization, and innovation in the forthcoming articles. It shall be an honor for me to have your feedback.