The Language of Leadership is a bespoke course we have just successfully completed for middle managers of a global company. The aim was to develop leadership communication on a daily basis to build engagement and relationships with teams. It will enable them to lead with passion and compassion, whilst gaining alignment to achieve the required goals.
The strategic issues the delegates identified in the pre-course briefing fell into three main categories:
How do I:
- Motivate the team in a challenging environment?
- Communicate the right message with impact?
- Improve my leadership skills?
Here is some of the key learning identified by the managers from the practical discussion that ensued. This may seem like common sense, but common sense and common practice are not always the same thing!
Motivating the team in a challenging environment
- One of the biggest challenges is the amount and speed of change. This is likely to create fear and uncertainty. You can counteract this by regularly communicating with your team to reassure them.
- The key aspect is to understand what motivates you and each individual. This requires communication during one-to-one’s to really listen and coach the responses. It is important to recognise that people are different and you need to be flexible in your approach. You cannot assume that everyone is motivated by the same things you are.
- Provide the 3 R’s
Roles clearly defined – what you want them to do and the responsibilities they have within that
Results specified – how well you want them to do it
Recognition – how well they are doing with constructive feedback
- Setting clear expectations is vitally important. You need to communicate what your expectations are of them and discover what they need from you. This creates a psychological contract. Providing certainty and direction allows people to feel less threatened in times of rapid change. It ensures you get the behaviours you need and can lead to greater engagement and trust.
- Being credible creates trust, not just in you as a leader, but in the message you want to deliver.
- Ensuring the team are 100% clear of what the long term goals are can create greater alignment to what needs to be done.
- Building your emotional bank account means that you can draw on it in difficult times. As a leader, it is important to ‘pay into’ your account daily with the currency of trust, respect, recognition, fairness and honesty.
- Using power rather than force to motivate your team will bring longer term results. You will get better results when motivating by reward rather than using fear or threat. The danger is that when leaders are under pressure and time is short, they can resort to a more aggressive approach.
Communicating the right message with impact
- If you want your message to be remembered then it needs to be memorable. There are numerous techniques to add impact on a daily basis. Using a story is one. Passion is more important than PowerPoint.
- Serious consideration needs to be given to the emotional impact of your message and how you want the person to ‘feel’ when you have finished. “People may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.
- K.I.S.S. – keeping it simple and straightforward means preparing a clear concise message. Don’t let your message be lost in the waffle.
- It is very easy when you are familiar with what is happening to sell a new concept too fast. Prepare, so you are clear in what you want, and give the team time to absorb the message.
- Speaking with impact is not a given and requires preparation. There are dangers in thinking you can ‘wing it.’
- There is a need to adjust your vocabulary and style of delivery to meet the needs of the individual. People have different preferred ways of thinking. For example, some people like short brief information, whilst others want much greater details and facts. Working globally, your language of leadership has to meet cultural differences too. Cultural intelligence is becoming more important for businesses.
Improving own leadership skills
- Professional development of leadership skills is a continual work in progress. A key question for any leader to ask is ‘How am I doing?’
- Being aware of your leadership style can enable you to be flexible in different situations. It can also allow for greater self development and the ability to play to your strengths.
- Having a strong determination to deliver is essential for good leadership, but the best leaders combine that with an ability to engage with individuals and teams.
- As communication is vital on a daily basis, it pays to stand back and think about the impact of your behaviours. As Steven Covey said “We judge ourselves by our intentions, others will judge us by our behaviours”
- Remember when you point the finger of blame there are three pointing back at you. How might you be contributing to the situation? You may like to consider setting time aside each week to reflect and review your own leadership.