If someone was to ask you to use three words to describe yourself, what would those words be? And if someone was to use three words to describe you, what do you think those three words would be?
No one said being a leader is easy. Whether you’re a person or a company, there is a certain sense of gravity and expectation that goes with the job and the title. So grave is the weight, that it caused Joseph Wambaugh to pen the words: ‘fish rots from the head’. Meaning that when an organisation or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.
So what are the qualities of a good leader? It all starts with how others perceive who you are as a leader.
Consider someone you know who is an influencer or who has, what you believe to be, effective influencing skills. What is it about them that gets you interested, motivated, or even inspired? Are they passionate and dynamic? Perhaps. Confident? Most definitely. Knowledgeable? Certainly.
Are they a leader?
With the Olympics and Paralympics keeping so many of us awake and excited in the wee hours, I got to thinking that we can draw a lot of parallels between Olympic sports and public speaking. Getting up to deliver a presentation can feel like you are standing on the blocks of the pool, and the crowd of 40 can like 40,000 through our fearful eyes. Certainly for many of us, the adrenaline rush before we go on stage can feel approximately equal to the level you might experience before a high dive.
So what tips we can learn from these first class athletes who perform on the world stage, to make our experiences of public speaking a success on any stage?
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said: “I think it’s important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”
The beauty of human behaviour is that we are constantly learning. No matter how old we are, or how advanced we think we are, we never actually stop learning. And feedback and coaching conversations are a way in which we can learn. After all, how else are we meant to know if we’ve done something wrong or right and then learn or evolve from it?
Have you ever been in a conversation where no matter what you did, you struggled to engage with the other person?
What was it that they did? Or didn’t do?
In a perfect world, all our stakeholder and client conversations would go according to plan and we would emerge with perfectly desired outcomes for both parties. And both parties would come out of the conversation stronger for it, with big smiles, skipping together through a field under a rainbow-enhanced sky.
And yes, pink elephants would fly.
“Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” So says billionaire Richard Branson, who believes that communication is the skill that will set you apart from the crowd.
Indeed, Branson can certainly form alliances with the many business leaders and entrepreneurs who credit effective communication skills for much of their success. He joins the ranks of Warren Buffet, who believes that effective communication will instantly raise a person’s professional value.
Let’s face it. There are aspects about our jobs that we love and then there are aspects about our jobs that we don’t. Any job. Things we look forward to. And things we don’t.
Like feedback conversations. Nobody looks forward to those. Whether you’re a manager, leader, or coach who has to deliver the feedback, or the one who is on the receiving end.
Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2016 identified that “… the ubiquity of always-connected mobile devices makes learning potentially available everywhere and accessible to everyone at any time. Employees can now take a course on nearly any subject online, search for an expert video or podcast to learn a quickly needed skill, and even earn a college degree in a new topic like data science without leaving their desk—or a couch or coffee shop. This new world of consumer-centric learning puts employees, not L&D departments, in charge.”