As I’ve been getting some r&r time on holiday in Ireland I’ve found myself reflecting on the whole topic of leadership, my experiences as one at Inpulse and working with many in the corporate, charity and faith sectors over the last two decades. Over the next month I will be sharing a nugget from these reflections each week, so here is my first little nugget for you to ponder and see what your views are on it…warning – I’m sure someone else will have said it before and better than me but I still passionately believe that getting this nugget right can improve leadership and ultimately business performance.
Nugget 1 – “If you don’t communicate with conviction you’ll never connect with emotion.”
I’ve watched countless leaders at town halls, leadership events and conferences over the years and I can count on one hand the number that have stood and delivered their message with true conviction. I’ve lost count of the number who shared their opinions, facts and figures and every single time (EVERY TIME) failed to connect with people’s emotions and therefore little to nothing was achieved after the session. This isn’t about being Churchillian (amazing orator) it is about tapping into your own beliefs and convictions and from that place of power communicating your message. On the few occasions I’ve seen leaders lead with conviction in corporate life the impact is awesome – a team fired up, hopeful, excited and passionate about the future. Leaving the room motivated and connected to what is possible! I’m not guaranteeing it always leads to the outcome you want but you’ve got a hell of a higher chance of achieving more engagement by leading with conviction not just facts and figures. So why does this lack of communicating with conviction happen? My view of working with lots of leaders in the corporate world is that we are high on left-brain leaders – rational, factual, thoughtful and low on right brain leaders – emotive, evocative and imaginative. This needs to rebalance and it doesn’t need to take new leaders it just needs the existing ones to remember they have a right and left brain and begin to use them in a more holistic way.
Look at what is happening in the world right now, the rise of popularism and those leaders associated with it, they lead and communicate with conviction. Now we can debate whether their convictions are helpful or unhelpful but that’s not my point. My point is that the public in many countries are voting for people they see as leading with conviction not just on rational facts and figures. Why? Because it connects with their emotions, their fear, hope, trust. And that connection is so strong, people will leave their homes and go vote for it! In my few experiences of seeing leaders lead with conviction in corporate life it has encouraged employees to want to be part of the team, give more, work harder, stay later, strive for results, all to bring the leader’s convictions to life. Where there is no conviction and no connection…guess what….everyone carries on as normal, watching from afar to see what happens to the leader’s facts and figures and only doing the minimum required of them. The good news is that communicating with conviction is something leaders can grow and develop at, but like all things it will take time, focus, effort and change – starting with new daily habits. The leaders I’ve seen who get this right are the ones that have immersed themselves in truly living out their convictions and are communicating them not only when they are talking to a room full of people but at all times.