One of the cornerstone principles of Communication-Based Leadership (CBL) is leadership is about relationships.

All too often however, leaders think of both leadership and communication as a series of one-way interactions. It is an easy trap to fall into, particularly in an environment characterized by the speed, ubiquity, and mobility of communication technology, where saying something to the whole world can be done at the the speed of Send, but rich interaction with more than a few people at a time remains a challenge.

Avoiding this trap often requires change from a common mindset of monologue to a mindset of dialogue and interaction.

Our mindset reflects and is informed by the words we use, and the words we use reflect and inform our mindset. So if we want to think about leadership in new ways, we need to change the words we use to discuss it.

This is a driving concept behind our presentation of NoCabulary terms in the Blog of Hard NoCs – starting with the distinction we drew between the terms communications and communciation.

The words we challenge you to think about today are audiences and publics.

In general, audience describes a group of people we want to communicate at or to. When we craft and deliver messages for delivery to audiences,  we begin to think about audiences as a target to hit, not as people with whom we want to interact.

Ask around. Check with your colleagues. Your customers and clients. Do they want you to think of and talk about them as targets?

A public on the other hand is a group of one or more people who share common interest in a given issue. People, not targets, with whom we want to form a relationship of some kind. Whether our purpose is to unify a team of people, unleash their potential, and focus them on a goal, or to create a growing number of clients or customers whose trust in our products and services endures over time, first and foremost they want us to talk and think about them as people.

Will changing the use of these two simple words immediately transform the mindset of a leader or your entire organization? Not right away — and not on their own! But combined with the other NoCabulary terms, we can begin to overcome one-way thinking we may not even realize constrains us and our teams.

We invite you to give deliberate thought to audience and other the words commonly used throughout your organization. Do you talk and think in terms of “target audiences”? Prioritize key publics instead. Do you craft messages to deliver via social media platforms? Start to think and talk in terms of social media rather than social media and look for opportunities to interact with people rather than getting your message out through a platform.

Keep following us here at Hard NoCs for other thoughts and ideas about how to change your mindset from that of the Little Dutch Boy to Duke Kahanamoku.

Thanks for reading – we’ll see you again soon!


Cliff W. Gilmore

Cliff W. Gilmore

CEO at North of Center, LLC
Cliff holds a PhD in organization and management with a specialization in leadership. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he completed operational deployments to Fallujah, Iraq and Kandahar and Helmand, Afghanistan. He has led multi-national and inter-agency teams including approximately one year on loan from the Corps as Director of Policy, Planning, and Outreach for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs. He also directly advised the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on public and media engagement regarding national security matters for two years as Special Assistant for Public Communication. Today he puts that experience to work helping people become the kind of leaders they would want to follow.
Cliff W. Gilmore
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