Recently, I searched on Google for “the importance of communication in business” and found about 70 million results. But when I searched for “the importance of authentic communication in business,” I found over 130 million results. Renowned CEO coach Kristi Hedges understands this difference. A few years ago, she quit offering her successful public speaking training. Why? It was stifling her clients’ authenticity and eroding their power to influence others and make change.
Warren Buffett’s 45-year career at Berkshire Hathaway shows how authentic communication builds trust and creates wealth. His annual shareholder letters embody the gold standard of CEO communication. He owns up to his mistakes and tells prophetic stories. In 2002, Buffett trusted me to quote from his shareholder letters to write my first book, Do Business with People You can Tru$t. Two more books followed, the most recent, Investing Between the Lines. It was endorsed by Buffett in his letter in 2013. Given the Oracle’s success, you might wonder why other executives don’t follow his example. Some do.
The annual report shareholder letters published in early 2013 by Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s new CEO, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos and Charles Schwab’s CFO, Joe Martinetto, are authentic masterpieces. They excel as models of authentic communication. Use the six rules below to find other authentic and successful leaders. Ask yourself, do they:
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