In business, control and command paradigms for leading no longer work. Professor Jay Conger points out that today managers and leaders most need “the ability to persuade and convince rather than command and direct.”
In the past, a leader’s responsibility as a communicator rested more or less on providing good information and clear direction. Leaders got away with using tools of persuasion that went little beyond plain facts, graphs and pie charts as people more readily accepted direction.
Today, more and more leaders work in cross-functional, cross generational teams where they have little or no formal authority. Their ability to connect, engage and persuade is challenged daily. Even when leaders do enjoy formal status they find themselves working with people who are more prepared to challenge and less prepared to follow if they don't feel convinced, engaged or committed.
People want to receive and absorb information from a credible, confident and authentic source in the form of powerful interesting experiences that leave a positive emotional resonance. Leaders can only inspire performance not command it.
If we are to thrive in an age characterized by information overload, lack of time, increasing levels of complexity and uncertainty, our ability to cut through, connect with others, win respect, enthuse and energize people will be key attributes for people who want to lead the way and take people with them.
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