Dr. Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann return with the second edition of their bestselling and hugely influential guidebook that has helped shape leaders for the past decade and one that will shape many more for decades to come.
Mastering Communication at Work
In Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage and Influence, Becker and Wortmann provide insight from years of coaching and speaking experience with their respective organizations.
Becker heads the global executive communication firm The Speech Improvement Company, which trains teams and leaders internationally. Becker is also a keynote speaker and author and one of the trainers at his company.
Wortmann is also an executive trainer at an executive and mental coaching firm. An accomplished writer, his work has been featured in O Magazine, Elle, The Huffington Post, Fox, and other esteemed outlets.
Together, two of the top executive communications coaches take the reader on a journey of improvement that encompasses everything within the workplace and beyond.
Corporate America has painted many of its executives as champions of public speaking and communicating.
Both authors recognize that this is the direct result of adhering to certain principles and learnings that anyone can embody. The two break down what skills the reader can master to become a communicator of the highest degree.
Referencing everyone from Aristotle to the Vice President of Communications for an NFL team, we are immediately immersed in lessons by some of the individuals most sensitive to what makes one successful in their pursuit of connecting to others. Adding to that, the expert commentary from Becker and Wortmann provides a compelling case for specific behaviors, learnings, and styles that had me considering my own beliefs as a communicator.
What I believe Mastering Communication at Work does exceptionally well are the book’s case studies. As mentioned, the authors invite perspectives from various individuals who have impressive track records in their unique professions. Unlike competing texts such as Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, the differentiator is that we see the case studies and are given a chance to analyze what these leaders experienced beyond just their perspective. Not only do we hear it from them, but the authors explain exactly what took place, the challenges faced, and how they were overcome.
As a reader and professional who finds it difficult to connect with leaders, I appreciated the further detail and explanation we receive in this second volume. The authors truly empathize with the situations faced to draw meaningful conclusions about what works and what does not.
Another strength of the guidebook is its extras. This refers to the quizzes, takeaways, tests, and matrixes, among other items the authors include so the reader can work through and learn about themselves while also training their communication skills. In a sense, the book becomes a business course unto itself. By asking us to consider many of the same questions and scenarios they might pose to their trainees and clients, we are given the coaching experience for the book’s price. I found running through many of these exercises particularly useful.
The truth of the matter is that many other books achieve what Mastering Communication at Work does with its teachings. What makes this second edition of the book so valuable, setting aside from a saturated market of business books and YouTube videos, is the new chapter regarding virtual work communications.
This chapter surprised me in that it went beyond the element of public speaking to a virtual crowd, touching upon unexpectedly handy subjects like framing, lighting, and sound. The authors hit upon every major consideration when it comes to the new virtual environment, and it comes at great use to leaders seeking to make sense of this new dynamic.
My only critique of this guidebook is that Becker and Wortmann, updating this book for a more modern audience, miss a critical opportunity to address the nuance of communicating in an age where companies must do more for their diverse employees. Everywhere in the professional world, no matter the industry, diversity, and inclusion have become critical to organizations.
To neglect this very fact reflects a major gap in the wealth of information the authors provide. In future volumes, it would be helpful and necessary that they address how leaders communicate with colleagues with marginalized backgrounds and experiences.
The bottom line
Ultimately, Mastering Communication at Work wins in unpacking complex teachings and concepts for a general audience. It is no mystery why the book’s first edition is an international bestseller.
I zipped through the many case studies, exercises, and examples Becker and Wortmann provide, making sure to keep notes that I can come back in reference.
In the end, I would recommend this book to anyone from student to seasoned professional interested in taking their communication skills from business school students to CEOs in the most successful organizations, anyone who desires to embody the qualities of authentic leadership.