The Language of Leading – it’s something to think about. In my book, A Climb to the Top, I spotlight a good friend and fine executive colleague of mine, Lou Eccleston, the CEO of Canada’s TMX Group. His ability to communicate in a way that inspires change is masterful. With my recent focus on leadership coaching and emotional intelligence, I can’t help but still highlight Lou’s effectiveness as a leader in a situation he called, “the transformational challenge of his life.”
When Lou took the helm of TMX back in 2014, he immediately recognized the need for change. Prior to his arrival, he felt the management of TMX was in denial that anything was wrong. Consequently, the foundation of his transformation is based on:
- Awareness—Intense competition is impeding revenue growth.
- Conflict—Admit we have a problem. Our clients are changing, and we’re not keeping pace.
- Resolution—We need greater transparency, more effective communication skills, and accountability for our actions.
To achieve these new objectives, Lou relied on his exceptional communication skills to achieve lasting cultural change. Using powerful communication techniques, Lou was able to inspire 1,400 employees to develop a mindset of growth, responsiveness, and transformation.
It couldn’t have been done without his successful use of the “language of leading” – leadership that inspires, persuades and provokes change. When Lou first arrived, he took the necessary time to thoroughly analyze the state of TMX’s culture and highlighted some key takeaways:
- People weren’t acknowledging that things were getting worse.
- Driven by their internal legacy, employees were locked in their old ways, inhibiting the rapid response to the shifting financial industry landscape.
- They weren’t listening to clients; they were trying instead to sell them products they neither needed nor wanted.
Lou’s transformation would need to help employees shift how they thought, behaved, and acted. He firmly acknowledged they had great operating skills but needed to do a better job of spearheading lasting change.
Most regime changes in organizations of this size bring doubt and uncertainty—not, however, in a Lou Eccleston organization, which fosters candor and transparency. From his first day on the job, Lou firmly aligned words and actions. When asked about his leadership approach, his response was clear:
- I stand for simplicity—no hidden agendas.
- I’ll listen to what you think, good or bad.
- I may not always agree with you, but I am going to take action and explain my rationale.
I’ve always admired Lou’s ability to set a positive tone despite enormous pressure to exceed expectations. He once told me, “If you don’t create urgency to change, people won’t. It has to bring out the positive, otherwise, you won’t have any action.”
His ability to evoke this kind of change with positivity and effectiveness is the essence of leadership founded on effective communication and emotional intelligence. Unafraid to address challenges head-on with employees and colleagues, Lou exemplifies necessity of the language of leading. As he says, “you can run from it, or you can do something about it.” To learn more about how to adopt the language of leading like Lou, visit chuckgarcia.com.