shutterstock_102476615It’s so funny that when someone achieves an admirable position or level of success, we use the phrase, “they’ve arrived.” The word “arrived” usually implies the end of a journey, but it’s often just the beginning of a new one.
People who rise to the top and assume leadership positions also assume an increasing – sometimes consuming – level of communication responsibilities. They find themselves needing to transition from their comfort zone of doing and overseeing, which they’ve done really well, to talking … talking A LOT. They talk to educate, sell, inform, motivate, persuade, reassure, and influence.
To be effective – and, even more pressing these days, to be authentic – leaders who want to succeed as much at talking as they did at doing and overseeing would be well-advised to take a good, hard look down deep inside themselves and inventory what they’ve got – personal stories (or not), compelling messages (or not), front-of-the-room charisma (or not).
And then begins the real work, the real journey.
This is not just for leaders, everyone can benefit from digging deep, so here’s what you want to look for deep inside yourself:
What are your prime motivators? Really. Truly. What drives you? Even if it feels unrelated to the work you do, describe it, share it. Was there someone who inspired or mentored you? Was there an influencing event or situation from your childhood? If it’s real and it’s you, it’s relevant.
What are your biggest holdbacks? Flaws, even? Self-awareness is a winning connector with any audience, just as self-deprecation is the safest form of humor with any audience. But seriously, think about the blocks and hurdles you place in your own way, or think about the traits you sometimes exhibit that aren’t so flattering. Are you willing to call yourself out and share them? Can you tie them to a lesson learned? If it’s real and it’s you, it’s relevant.
What excites you about your work? What scares you? What keeps you up at night? How do you view and feel about your team? If it’s real and it’s you, it’s relevant.
What’s your why? With so many people wanting meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful work, it’s important to be able to articulate why. The why we do what we do has become the new mission, vision and values of the old days.
And finally, what’s your personal communication style? Are you comfortable at the front of the room or uncomfortable? What self-perceptions are you holding onto that no longer serve you or that are no longer accurate? Can you let go of them and can you use positive imagery to re-imagine yourself as a more engaging speaker? What aspects of your presence are you comfortable with or confident in – voice, posture, hands, body language? Can you emphasize what works for you, what you like, and then work on the rest?
No matter what level of success you achieve, the journey of being an effective, engaging, connecting, communicator will be ongoing, so to access what you need to use to be at your best, dig deep!
Beth Levine