Level 1 Leadership Communication – Becoming the Leader You Want/Need to Be

You’ve probably heard the phrase “be careful what you wish for?”

That was my exact thought at the age of 26 when I was thrust, unexpectedly, into the role of Vice President/General Manager of one of Minor League Baseball’s most successful franchises in the mid-80s in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Overnight I went from being comfortable in my role as assistant general manager into the top position of a $3 million business.

In looking back on that experience early in my career in baseball management, I realized I got into the game for selfish reasons and never envisioned myself as a leader.

I never really aspired to be a leader, I just wanted to work in baseball.

I’m making this point because it took me a long time, probably 10-12 years before I felt comfortable in my leadership role. It took me that long to realize how important investing time and energy in Level 1 Leadership Communication is.


Level 1 Leadership Communication offers those you lead a foundation on which they will build the trust and respect you need to lead them most effectively. It also will provide the foundation from which you will then be able to get great results from your Level 2 & Level 3 Leadership Communication.

Level 1 Leadership Communication is about becoming self-aware and defining yourself as a leader, then committing to be the type of leader you want to be, and then acting congruently and consistently with that definition.

To help my clients with their Level 1 Leadership Communication I created two separate, but related exercises.

One is called the WHO-WHAT-HOW Exercise, described below (I encourage you to take out a piece of paper and work on this exercise):

WHO-WHAT-HOW Exercise:

WHO – Define who you want to be as a leader. Identify the traits, personality characteristics and the communication style you are committed to applying in your leadership role. If you know or have admired other leaders whom you would like to emulate list them and their traits here.

  • Example:
    • Detail oriented,
    • punctual,
    • early riser,
    • physically fit,
    • healthy diet,
    • communicates with directness but with compassion and empathy,
    • open minded,
    • curious,
    • true open door policy.

WHATWhat are the specific details behind each of the traits, personality characteristics and the communication style you want to use. What

  • Example:
    • Ask a lot of questions,
    • listens actively and responds appropriately,
    • always uses appropriate eye contact,
    • is early for every meeting,
    • always prepares meeting agenda in advance and lets others review it for comments and adjustments before providing final copy in advance,
    • always has time for others when requested either in the moment or schedules a specific time as close as possible to the time the request is made,
    • always follows through with an answer to questions/requests in a timely fashion,
    • always maintains and projects appropriate emotional demeanor.

HOWHow are you committed to manifesting these traits and how are you committed to showing up as a leader. This is where the aspiring Champion Leader commits to applying those traits, characteristics  and actions into specific daily behaviors in leading their organization.

  • Example:
    • I promise to be early and prepare in advance for all meetings.
    • I will maintain a positive attitude and apply the most appropriate emotional responses to situations so that I can be a role model for those I lead.
    • I promise to lead by example in terms of my personal health and physical fitness, and
    • will treat all those who come before me with respect, empathy, compassion and genuineness.

The “HOW” section is the leader’s personal promise and standard statement to themselves and to those they lead. It is something those that aspire to be great leaders are willing to hold themselves accountable to and are willing to have those they lead hold them accountable to.

The WHO-WHAT-HOW exercise is a very powerful process offering a solid strategy for Level 1 Leadership Communication.

Once your WHO-WHAT-HOW is complete it is meant to be a living, working document that should be evaluated, and adjusted regularly, if required. It is also a great model to launch a 360 feedback process from those you lead, which will allow you to make adjustments that will have the greatest impact and results in leading your team and organization.

Next time I will share with you the C.H.A.M.P. Leader Model and offer you a similar standards and promise exercise that will help you shape your Level 1 Leadership Communication.

If you haven’t yet completed my survey and self-assessment on the 3 Levels of High-Performance Leadership Communication, you still have a chance, go to www.SecretsOfConfidentLeaders/3levelsassess . Complete the survey before Monday, September 19th as I will be closing it down to analyze and report the results by October 1st.

’til next time, make it a great weekend!