Developing an authentic voice as a leader
In an earlier interview London-based agency owner Nick Meir pointed out that self-awareness is key if leaders want to communicate clearly and with authenticity. Here, he focuses on how leaders can develop and authentic voice.
You’ve been working on improving leadership communication for some time now. What are the most common problems you encounter?
The number one issue is authenticity. Far too often leaders will try and adopt a style (usually an imitation of the senior leadership team), and consequently a house style of leadership communication emerges.
The greatest business communicators ooze authenticity. They understand who they are, understand their own weaknesses, and they are happy in their own skin.
Develop an authentic voice
What steps can a leader – particularly a new leader – take to develop her or his authentic voice?
It’s not as easy you might think. There is one executive I’ve been working with for around five years. Early in our relationship I said to him that he was paying me to coach him to be himself. He looked at me as if I’d taken leave of my senses. A few weeks ago we were having dinner and I reminded him of our conversation, and he knew exactly what I meant.
There is no quick fix to developing an authentic voice, especially for those leaders who have been subsumed by a particular culture for ten years or more.
Different leaders must take different approaches
Having the confidence to be yourself and develop an authentic voice will depend very much on the psychological make up of the individual. Different leaders require very different approaches.
However, there are three essential components which will set an individual on the right road:
1. Being self-aware
2. Being open to fresh thinking on tactical delivery
3. An ability to hear and act on feedback.
Books to help improve leadership communication
Do you recommend any books or seminars etc for leaders who want raise the bar and be better communicators?
My early career was in theatre and then broadcast media, so this influences my selection:
- Building A Character – Constantin Stanislavski (this is a handbook for actors).
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini (something of a perennial).
- Your Voice and How to Use It – Cicely Berry (very useful and practical).