I did a quick search on google for leadership styles and guess how many articles, theories and perspectives there are? Well you might be surprised to know that the answer is similar to the name of the search engine – apparently a googl is a number. By the way for those who were interested the answer is 10 100 . The majority of these articles tend to focus on a few distinct areas – how to be a great leader, what great leaders say, how great leaders drive performance, within those points we again find a number of theories which are in essence always the same but just altered with the latest buzz word.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is anything wrong with these insights, in fact I recommend you read widely and explore a diversity of thought.
But! I am suggesting there are additional elements we need to consider and I might even be daring enough to suggest that these are some elements are as important or maybe even more so.
OK here is my first challenge, I need you to re-read the previous sentence and try to consider the tone or the pitch in my voice as I wrote it (some poetic licencing needs to be taken). So was my tone serious, maybe it was comical, I could have even been driving the message home using a deep authoritative voice – now how would you have interpreted the sentence if you saw me roll my eyes while saying it.
Out of curiosity did the exclamation mark make any difference.
The impact of the way we deliver a message, whether it is a performance review, a state of the nation or even a presentation to the board, is as much linked to the content of the message as it is in the delivery. It is important to remember that unlike language, behaviour is interpreted more from our unconscious biases than from the visual evidence we observe.
Unfortunately, the one limitation we all face is the ability to read minds so trying to understand what someone else is thinking would be futile, however there are some actions which may help reduce the unconscious and often incorrect interpretations of your words and actions.
Here are some ideas you might want to consider:
- Embrace your inner performer and perform in the bathroom
We need to evolve from singing to ourselves in the shower to performing in-front of the mirror and actually seeing what we look like when we deliver a message. For the brave I would encourage you to record the performance and watch it 24 hours later to gain a different perceptive on your delivery.
- Change your language
Stop asking “do you like it” and replace it “what is wrong with it”. This simple change in language will open up the conversation and give your audience the opportunity to explore the message and ensure mis-interpretations are quashed before they spread like wildfire.
- Request an audience
Gauging feedback during a performance is difficult, so practice before. Don’t simply select friendly colleagues as the may choose not to be critical if needed. Select a diverse group of people to test the material.
- Request a co-presenter
Sometimes sharing the stage can support the message, especially if they can bring a sense of diversity to the message. Using video testimonials during a discussion can also be helpful as your audience can hear the message form another source
Close your eyes and go through the motions in your head. Play out all the scenarios you can think of and make sure you have a plan B and C.
- Have a crisis plan
Things will not always go to plan and having a crisis plan and check list to follow can enhance your ability to cope with a disaster and enhances your confidence.
- Get permission to be blunt
Might seem odd, but sometimes we need to get a point across quickly and don’t have time for pleasantries. Get permission before hand and everyone will be on the same page.
- Aligned and consistent
If the message you are providing is upbeat then ensure the delivery is and vice versa, authenticity is directly aligned to consistency in messaging. But this needs to extend beyond the presentation, giving a sombre message to group will be destroyed if you are viewed later in the day laughing and having a joke. May seem small but it is still important.
Finally, while you tone, pitch and eye rolls are important and subjective like any other skill they can be developed and enhanced so get on it.