5 ways to boost your leadership impact

The survey was conducted in September 2012 by the Australian Financial Review. To improve your leadership communication skills and boost your impact our top 5 communication tips are:

To improve your leadership communication skills and boost your impact our top 5 communication tips are:

1. Improve your presence 
Great presence keeps us paying attention. It sustains our fascination and creates a positive expectation. The very best business leaders, actors and politicians have it. So do many others from all walks of life. So what's their secret?

Like your voice, your presence is unique. It comes from within. It starts with an inner state. While there is a lot we don’t know about the alchemy of presence, we do know that aspects of good presence are teachable.

Remember that people read a composite picture of you derived from the way you look, sound, move, the words you use, your facial expressions, your attitude and your energy levels. In the first seven to ninety seconds, we set off a chain of chemical reactions in others ranging from confidence and reassurance through to fear and foreboding. In well under 90 seconds people have decided either to withdraw and reject us or to trust and engage with us.

Here are some techniques that can amplify your presence: 
a. Learn to relax your body - eliminate fidgeting, swaying and any excessive movements that might detract from your message. Learn the technique of centering.
b. Check your posture - stand or sit up straight but don't become stiff or wooden. Concentrate on lengthening your spine, opening your chest and dropping or releasing your shoulders.
c. Use gestures well - smile appropriately; use effective eye contact and expressive hand gesture. Loosen up. Guard against any excessive facial tension, especially associated with your jaw area.
d. Reach out psychologically to others - have a “I want to connect” attitude when you are around others – it shows.

2. Develop your voice and make it work for you
Make no mistake your voice and how you use it plays a powerful role in the emotional judgments people make about your personality, your authority, your trustworthiness and your credibility - both at an individual and at a company level.

If you want to take your leadership impact to the next level as yourself “Have I found my leadership voice? Does my leadership voice stand out? Does it set me apart?”

Despite the pervasiveness of communication technologies such as Facebook and Twitter, the human voice clearly remains of paramount importance to us all in our everyday expression of ourselves and our leadership. It helps determine how well we connect with others at an emotional level.

We should never underestimate the power of our vocal delivery and our vocal tone to attract or repel others to us and our message; nor should we underplay the importance of who we are and what we speak for as leaders. Make your voice, on both levels, great.

3. Become a meaning maker not a champion of spin or jargon
Today we are drowning in information. Businesses and individuals are engaged in a battle for attention, meaning and relevance. The future belongs to the meaning makers not the spin merchants. Genuine leaders help us make sense of things, they connect the dots, put things into perspective, help us grasp new and ambitious possibilities. They construct arresting storylines we can buy-into, both at an emotional and intellectual level.

Making meaning is an essential skill for leaders at any level. For CEO’s, senior leaders and politicians it is a primary role. It is OK to develop the art of speaking in sound bites, but leadership via spin or jargon leads nowhere. People know it and they are tired of it.

4. Be prepared to inspire
All leadership is a form of theatre. It is a social act. As a leader you are centre stage. People want you to be authentic, dynamic, uplifting, interesting, confident and, above all, inspiring.

Every leadership interaction offers the opportunity to transport people from the realm of self-interest and ‘the ordinary’ into the realm of possibility and the ‘extraordinary’. Leaders help define dreams that people (and businesses) can live into. As the drama of change plays out in our workplaces leaders without empathy and the ability to inspire will struggle to bring about best performance in themselves and in others.

Too many leaders when faced with an opportunity to inspire opt for playing it safe. Don’t let this be you. Step out of your comfort zone. As Nelson Mandela reminded us - playing small doesn’t serve the world.

5. Marshal your energies
As a leader the way you orchestrate your energy is vital. Your energy will vary according to the demands of the situation, your role, your personal preferences and your particular strengths. Most leaders need to use more energy in their communications than they think. And leaders also need to use different types of energy. One situation may require a nurturing energy; another may require an action-oriented or driving energy. Another situation may require a more charismatic, inspirational energy. As a leader you need to be adaptive enough to quickly switch energies to suit the situation.

From our experience not all leaders convey the ability to use a range of energies artfully. As a result they often fail to win the confidence and trust they expect. Often leaders get stuck communicating in one or two energy states. This limits their options. For example, a leader may overplay being calm, cool and rational or he or she may overplay the relentless driver or ‘warrior’ type energy in order to win at all costs. This wears people out over time. Any energy if overused becomes in-effective.

Leaders need the flexibility to be nurturing, driving, reflective and inspirational. The leaders that move us, win our trust and get things done demonstrate the ability to move effortlessly through different energy states.

If you would like to find out more about our programs including our NEW COACHING PROGRAM - Leadership Impactcontact us on 03 9699 6444 or email veronica@theatreofleadership.com

Veronica Allardice – is one of Australia’s most experienced voice, leadership communication and leadership development coaches and facilitators.

She works with a range of private & public sector clients to expand their personal authenticity and develop the professional skills to communicate, lead, and influence in today's constantly challenging business world.