Joel Schwartzberg knows of what he speaks. An experienced veteran in the field of leadership communication coaching, he’s worked with the likes of Blue Cross Blue Shield, the American Jewish Committee, and the Brennan Center for Justice. All of this makes his approach as a writer, complete with the release of his new book The Language of Leadership: How to Engage and Inspire Your Team, more refreshing. Often books written by professional experts in the leadership advice nonfiction sub-genre comes across as removed, sometimes a little heavy-handed, and viscerally unrelatable.


Schwartzberg bucks all these potential literary pitfalls without even letting the pendulum swing to the other side of the circle. He keeps things on an introductory front simple and effectively communicated, devoid of excess fancy terminology while not shying away from a decidedly wholesome outlook. “In a cage match of communication themes that generate internal inspiration, hope roundly defeats other important themes like empathy, honesty, transparency, perseverance, and unity, and it’s not hard to understand why. Hope is the articulation of your team’s professional desires, goals, and expectations,” Schwartzberg writes. “Imagine yourself as the captain of a ship in uncharted waters and your team members as the passengers. Empathy is nice. Transparency is nice. Teamwork is nice. But they want and need to hear hope. Hope is such an important theme that every moment of leadership communication should contain a hopeful sentiment.”

Through introducing themes and messaging like this, Schwartzberg fearlessly cuts through the traditionally cold, brassy attitudes often expressed by so-called ‘success stories’ who have navigated the depths of the corporate jungle. This isn’t in of itself a concept unique to Schwartzberg himself, but he is one in a minority of nonfiction writers to communicate such ideals and tenets in a way that again, never misses a beat on that precarious tightrope walk between emotion over substance and substance over emotive quality.

Many in various industrial positions of power are starting to revise their leadership methods, the idea of a sole echelon being invested in a business enterprise’s outcome replaced with a unified, group vision. Schwartzberg looks to this with data-backed enthusiasm, but also is willing to provide peppered bits of humor for any old-school profiles who might be wise to pick up a copy of his new book. “Some say one of a leader’s key roles is Chief Empathy Officer,” Schwartzberg writes under a passage christened Communicating Empathy. “Although this title may be asking too much of some leaders, there’s no question that even a little empathy can go a long way in making a team feel cared for, especially when an event or crisis affects the entire organization.”

Thrice mentioning his holding everything within the literary balance, Schwartzberg goes on to break down the actuality of the term ‘empathy’ within a corporate scenario. “Any good psychologist will tell you that empathy isn’t about solving a problem or being merely sympathetic to someone in distress,” he writes. “Empathy means truly understanding someone’s feelings, almost to the point of standing in their shoes…When your team is thirsty, they also want that thirst acknowledged and understood, even before they want it quenched.”

Kendall Townsend