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Leadership takes substance and style

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Yes, leadership is more about what you do than what you say. But it’s also about what you say … and how you say it.

Take the mayor of New York. He pulled the city out of a truly terrifying budget deficit. He created a call center so citizens can report leaky fire hydrants and other problems. He centralized the school system.

And yet, New Yorkers are unhappy with Michael Bloomberg.

In a public-opinion survey, only 20 percent of New Yorkers termed Bloomberg “warm and friendly,” while 60 percent labeled him “cold and businesslike.” In an earlier poll, more than 60 percent said they’d rather not have him over for Thanksgiving dinner.

“He says some of the right things,”one political observer notes, “but he just can’t say it like he means it, even though I think he does mean it.”

Lesson: It’s not enough for leaders to mean what they say; they have to sound like they mean what they say.

— Adapted from “The Un-Communicator,” Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker.

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