Learning any language, particularly the Language of Leadership (LOL), is a bit like learning to acquire a new skill. Like any disciple, there is a process to learning the skills that takes commitment, time, practice…and patience. Part of speaking the “LOL” is knowing there are two halves: your words and the way in which you engage with those around you. They are equally important – after all, leading assumes you have someone following you!
So, Where Does One Begin?
When I started teaching college courses, I quickly realized everyone has their own style of learning. Since each student develops differently, there is no one perfect way to start. However, there are some clear steps you can take to initiate learning and speak in the language of leading.
1. Take inventory – The best way to start anything is to take stock of where you currently stand. This step is often eye-opening, but necessary to understand where progress needs to begin! A critical piece of effective leadership is one’s EQ – their ability to not only identify and control personal emotions but to understand, empathize and react to others’ emotions. Taking an honest look at your EQ can be difficult. We all have areas that are natural strengths; we also all have areas of weakness which can make our interactions with the world around us more difficult. I provide a number of resources for professionals looking to increase their emotional intelligence – visit chuckgarcia.com to learn more and to take the public speaking assessment.
2. Know your learning style – In conjunction with identifying your strengths and weaknesses, understanding your learning style is extremely important. For example, if you are a visual learner and prefer that over a book, start with videos (can’t go wrong on TED talks) of selected leaders whose style you want to emulate. If you prefer to read before you practice, there are plenty of books I recommend to clients to help them appreciate and internalize how leaders speak. A few choices beyond, A Climb to the Top include: Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo, The Power of Communication by Helio Fred Garcia, and The World’s Greatest Speeches: Fourth Enlarged Edition.
3. Internalize…then practice…but, not everything – One of the biggest mistakes we can make when trying to develop new skills or make significant changes is taking on too much all at once. When we do this, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Instead, take things on slowly. When I introduce the “Ten Commandments of Great Presentations” to clients, I encourage them to try one or two tactics. By picking just a few areas to focus on, you successfully improve in those areas, making you that much better than you were before. When you feel comfortable, move onto a few more. This approach applies to any characteristic you feel you need to improve.
4. Listen to others…then listen to yourself – Note your use of language in any particular situation. Are you choosing powerful words that inspire and gets other excited? Do they want to hear more? Or are your words listless, and not compelling anyone to listen? You may not feel like it, but in some ways, a compelling leader and speaker is like an entertainer. Like a musician or actor, their ability to be successful requires shared energy or rapport between them and their audience. Your interactions in the office or on a stage with a larger audience are the same. Understand your audience, feel their energy regarding the topic at hand, and in return choose to communicate in a way that will motivate them to listen and engage.
Learning to lead and communicate more effectively is a skill to be developed – one which will take commitment, time, practice and above all else, patience with yourself. You already have strengths to leverage as you continue to improve yourself. Acknowledge those strengths and allow them to help you improve in other areas. Just know, that every effort you make is contributing to a more effective leader in the workplace and in your life. Learn more about any of the steps I covered by visiting, www.chuckgarcia.com/the-book/