In this latest article and podcast, we are going to focus on the 6th skill from my ‘Think See Do’ Leadership model.
Specifically, what you ‘Do’ in communicating effectively with your ‘People’.
In this article I’ll provide some ideas in 3 important areas as you seek to improve how you communicate and influence as a leader.
This is covered in more depth in my latest ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ podcast episode.
As a leader you’ll achieve considerably more if you can communicate more effectively with people – your staff, your outsourcers, your suppliers, your customers and people you meet in general on your journey.
I have chosen 3 areas to focus on here to help you – building relationships in a general sense, holding more effective meetings, and improving your presentation skills.
A) Building strong relationships
At the heart of how you communicate is how you relate to yourself first, then how you relate to others.
Relationship with self
Your relationship with yourself comes down to how self-aware you are and how well you can manage your own thinking, reactions and emotions. Self-awareness requires you to be more conscious of your thinking and emotions. This means observing how you think and noticing shifts in your emotional state, and then understanding why this is happening. It also needs you to be mindful of shifts in your physiological state, triggered by emotional reactions. Only by becoming more mindful of your triggers, can you shift into a more conscious state.
Managing your thinking then comes from finding ‘space’ and making choices. If we are on autopilot, we are not choosing. When we first become more conscious and then find ‘space’ to manage our reactions, we can make choices as a ‘conscious leader’.
When an email comes in that makes you emotional, it needs space for you to examine and shift how you think, see the situation and then act.
Relationship with others
The biggest driver for improving your relationship with others is to develop your empathy. This means your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their world and how they see a situation. As leaders we can often assume how someone thinks and feels, but being more empathetic leads us to spend more time really understanding this.
Two very quick pieces of advice on this – improve your questioning skills (especially the use of open questions – who, what, where, when, how, why) and summarise your understanding to confirm clarity.
Words, Tonality and Body Language
One final thought in this area. There has been research into how much weight these 3 different mechanisms play a part in our communication, but the simple fact is that all 3 count.
Depending on how important your communication is will impact on how important it is to use more than just words. An Email or message (with just words) can suffice often, but if the issue is more contentious, it’s important to move to phone or conference web call (tonality) or face to face meetings (body language). Don’t take the risk of misunderstanding if the matter is important.
B) Meaningful meetings
Meetings can be incredibly important and productive – 121s, appraisals, team meetings, project meetings, client meetings, supplier meetings.
But I’m sure you’ll agree that they can be the greatest waste of time too!
Here are some ideas to improve your meetings:
• Allocate specific time for your meetings (10 minutes, 25 minutes) and don’t go for the normal 30/60/2 hour/half day approach
• Send an agenda out before with the purpose, agenda items and intended outcomes
• Be ruthless with attendees that need to attend. If you are an attendee, be ruthless in accepting invitations too
• Confirm the preparation needed for everyone and prepare yourself
• Send out previous actions or any items needed for preparation.
• Hold the meeting in the best environment, possibly away from the normal offices
• Start on time!
• No devices allowed or have rules on their use
• Stand up for short meetings
• Summarise and recap for clarity throughout. What are the key issues, ideas and actions?
• Work to involve everyone
• Keep a close eye on time and keep the meeting on track to finish on time
• Ensure the minutes are succinct and based around actions, priorities, responsibilities and timeframes and get them out within 24 hours
• Arrange follow up meeting(s)
• Follow up on the actions and don’t just wait until the next meeting
C) Present at your peak
This will be the subject of a separate podcast episode in the future, as there is so much to cover!
I also run training on this topic with the East Midlands Chamber and you can find out more information here.
But here are 6 tips to start you off:
Preparation – Collect ideas as you go and don’t edit your content too soon. Allow yourself to free think about what you might cover in the presentation. Then use ‘post its’ (one per topic area) to dynamically build your presentation on a wall or large sheet of paper.
Confidence – Use techniques to put you in a positive state and make you feel good. This means being very mindful of how you are thinking and gaining some control over this. I find having a routine before I speak helps hugely here, which includes a visualisation technique and a focus on my breathing just before I start, to bring calm.
Engaging the audience – Show an interest in them and use eye contact. Use ‘You’ language much more rather than ‘I’ or ‘We’ and get some interaction going throughout.
Use of language and the voice – Vary your tone and use stories to shift the emotional state of your audiences and keep them interested.
Physical – Use purposeful movement and body language and a variety of visual aids to keep things interesting (flip charts and props are a great addition to slides).
Results – This should come first really. Know the results you want to achieve from the very start and then work on all the above to achieve them!
I hope you have found this article has stimulated your thoughts in this area and take the time to listen to the podcast to go into this in more depth.
Please feel free to subscribe to the podcast series ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ and explore other episodes in the series.
If you feel you need support in your leadership role, please give me a call on 07912 143 040 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss how I can support your leadership development.