Christian Monjou on Communication Skills



Christian Monjou used to be a Researcher and Professor at Oxford. He is currently a Professor of High Chair in a preparatory school (khâgne) at Lycée Henri IV in Paris. Impassioned by Shakespeare, Christian Monjou draws on history, art, and literature to tie in with the current events and to understand them better.

Talking about leadership and the concept of power, Christian Monjou argues that these assets cannot emerge without authority or legitimacy.


As regards leadership, communication is definitely a strategic skill but essentially a skill one must work at. Christian Monjou doesn't believe in improvisation: "The super great improviser is he who has worked immoderately ", he emphasizes in reference to Diderot. Thus, finding the right word at the right time is the fruit of an abundant labor to which is added the talent of the natural: "Ars est celare artem."

It is also equally essential to lift the “private body" up to the level of the "public body", for the issue of leadership appeals to both the mask (institutional) and the face (charismatic); and the true leader is the one that cleverly knows how to move back and forth between the former and the latter. Sure enough, he must measure them out delicately, as a hypertrophy of the signs often suggests a hypotrophy of the meaning, and therefore a "leader [that is]cheap".

To such difficulty adds that of the decryption of the messages, perfectly topical at the moment in a world that transmits dazzling information and uses reinforced media. The leader encodes his messages but is never master of their restitutions. However, he is expected to give meaning, absolutely.

Re-inventing oneself

 “Food like speech can’t be used two times” and one must resist the “strong desire to last” dear to Paul Eluard. The leader should be able to re-invent himself constantly and be courageous enough to move from something known to something that is unknown. He must know how to break the established routines using a measure and a style. He should give information on a future that he can make desirable as it is indispensable to the future survival and the expansion of his business.

Gaining mastery over time 

Time mastery is a key notion. The leader must eradicate for himself and the others the terrorist tyranny of the instantaneous. Time is his major challenge to the established authority. Leadership will surf a ridgeline that doesn't give way to lateness, nor to excessive haste, and the leader is the one who never yields to tense haste.

Finally, to these first skills should be added a thousand more, such as a quick intellectual and emotional intelligence, a good head for organization capable of managing the difference, a shared strategic vision and an honest art of the compromise… 

And if he happened to lack some of the required usual qualities, the responsibility rests with him to know himself perfectly and to identify his shortcomings: "Isn’t quality the other side of a controlled defect and a defect the reverse of a controlled quality."

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