Speaking and communication is a core part of leadership. To be able to clarify, share and empower people with your words is a key skill for leaders.
I speak for a living. One of the three things I have to be really really really good at as a leader is the ability to communicate my ideas as simply and as powerfully as possible. Continually learning to speak more effectively consumes a significant part of my personal and professional development. I also have a friend and colleague, Matt Church, who has shaped and mentored a deep understanding of what it means to be a leader who speaks. Matt calls them Amplifiers and believes the ability to speak motivationally is an imperative for influential leadership today.
Communication for leaders has two primary parts. Energy and Interest. Energy is an internal process managed by you the leader. Interest is external and experienced by the listener. Your goal, as a leader who speaks, is to be experienced as an influencer, a coach and a servant.
LeaderSpeak | Powerful Communication
Leaders must develop the skills to manage their energy AND focus their attention. Leaders who speak must combine the two, to ensure they have the right management of focus and direction of interest. Matt Church taught me that nerves are a sign of energy IN. Jim Collins taught me that it’s more important to be interested rather than interesting. When you are simply trying to convince people of your awesomeness, it’s a failed project from the start. LeaderSpeak is obsessed with energy and interest OUT.
How people experience leaders who speak:
Energy On You | Interest In You
Experienced as Narcissist
No one has to be told that a speaker is entirely self-focused and into their own message and presentation. You can tell. They ooze themselves, either out of insecurity, but more likely out of a place of superiority and a lack of self-awareness.
It’s the schmoozy, showy, bait and switch show that died out two decades ago. It’s the bad hair, plaid jacket used car salesman, my pen or yours, press hard three times kind of assault that kills your public credibility faster than you can imagine.
Authenticity is the new LeaderSpeak black. Being truly believable, truly authentic and truly professional all at the same time. It’s a currency that the leader who speaks must protect above all.
Energy On Others | Interest In You
Experienced as Showoff
This is the narcissist who has mastered the art of “energy OUT” and still keeps the interest levels on themselves. You are working overtime to impress people, not serve them. You believe in your message more than you believe in the people who are listening to it. You think convincing people to listen is about how impressive you can be alongside your list of achievements.
It’s one thing to have people admire you. It’s entirely another to have people enabled by you. Admiration happens at a distance. Enablement is a contact sport. Reorienting yourself towards your listeners, to their world, their priorities, their issues is the thing that shortens the distance between what you’re saying and who is listening.
One of the best antidotes to the temptation to show off is tell a self-deprecating story. Normalise yourself and your message in the minds and hearts of your listeners. We know you’re not Braveheart all the time, help us know that and feel a sense of the connectedness and rapport.
Energy On You | Interest In Others
Experienced as Insecure
When you have a deep desire to serve others this can become your primary “currency” as a speaker (kudos again to Matt Church for the metaphor). The “It really helped people” currency can be the primary reason for speaking when it really needs to be one of a number of reasons for speaking.
I speak for a living. When speaking, it’s important to have a conviction about your message that stops short of arrogance. It’s important to have a deep passion that your listeners get it AND do something productive with it. Heres’ some of the reasons I speak, often many of them at the same time.
- To teach.
- To lead.
- To set direction.
- To create, deepen or preserve culture.
- To inspire.
- To influence.
- To transform.
- To unify.
- And the list goes on.
When I have energy IN, with a high-interest level, I can look like I want the audience to like me more than perhaps I need them to. I can look like I am continually referencing them for positive reinforcement. There is a difference between getting feedback on rapport and needing the room to affirm you too much.
The cure for the insecure speaker is to believe in yourself and in your message and call to action more than anyone else in the room. In a previous post the role of conviction is key for the leader who speaks. Develop a discipline that moves from energy IN to energy OUT so listeners feel and know you are more than interested in them, and you are for them at a deep, internal, unconscious level.
Energy On Others | Interest In Others
Experienced as Influencer
Like an athlete with a pregame ritual, the leader who speaks runs the ‘start up disk’ before they step up in front of a team, a training room and key stakeholders, or in my case, our congregation or clients.
Developing the discipline to be energy OUT and interested IN others is a habit that all leaders who speak need to develop. Being able to discipline and manage your state so your internal orientation is towards you listeners, and your listeners feel and believe you are focused on them and for them.
To become the leader with energy OUT and interest OUT you need focus, feedback and failures. Focus means developing the pre-game ritual. Feedback is asking trusted mentors to hold up the mirror and failures help you work out fast what doesn’t work and what you can do to improve the situation.
Be the kind of speaker that Shannon Adler says who “Carves your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” LeaderSpeak is about people, legacy, transformation and movement. Keep it that way.
TheFifteenPercent | Going Further Faster