One of the great secrets of leadership is that it is simply not possible to inspire others without being a great communicator. So what does that require? When we think of communicating we likely think of what we learned in the classroom. We are trained to focus on spelling, grammar, vocabulary and the like. As a result, we tend to concentrate more on crafting our words than on crafting the message we need others to respond to. While words are very important, they are not what make an inspirational leader’s message resonate. The key to effectively communicating your message is to focus on others. For truly great leaders this understanding is either natural or well practiced. Here are three things to keep in mind.
1) Purposefully develop a keen external awareness: Great leaders are practiced at listening carefully and setting aside their personal perspective. This enables them to be astute in their observations. They are skilled at sensing the moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns of those receiving their intended message. Not only do they read their environment well, but they are able to adapt their messaging to that environment.
2) Encourage unfiltered feedback: Some common old school business theories suggest that leaders need to be distant to command respect. The problem with this approach is it encourages people to only share sanitized versions of the truth, and you risk only learning about potential losses or opportunities after it’s too late to react effectively.
3) Walk the talk: There is a huge difference between leadership and authority. People will follow authority because they have to, but will follow a great leader because they want to. In order to motivate that shift, your actions need to align with your words. When people feel a leader is worthy of their trust they will invest their time and energy in ways they never would if they sense their leader has poor character or a lack of integrity.
The key takeaway is this: people may do what is required to maintain their security when led by authority. But people will show up with heart and soul when they are led by someone they feel they can trust and who is able to express a vision that resonates with them.