As a leader, you are responsible for giving a clear direction to your team, department or company. One of the key skills for a leader is to align people and get them working towards common goals. This is done by combining two essential facets of leadership: communicating a clear and compelling message about corporate goals and exemplifying the company’s values in one's own words and deeds. The best leaders realise that this helps them inspire and energise employees to achieve a higher level of performance. It also makes it easier to implement change and increase the overall competitiveness of an organisation. Delivering the Message
Too often, leaders assume that calling for a meeting and making a statement is all that is needed to get the message across. They forget good employees are paid to think, and are not inclined to follow instructions blindly. Do not fall into the trap of expecting subordinates to respond as robots.
Make sure your comments are compelling – on both a rational and emotional level. Talk about results and benefits. Be specific at all times because employees rarely pay attention to generalities.
Also, if you think the audience might overlook certain crucial points, highlight the relevance of such points. That is a part of your job.
Even a leader should be prepared to substantiate an argument. Seniority does not automatically allow you to speak with unquestioned authority, so you need relevant facts and figures to prove any point. You can also use stories, case studies, visual aids or anecdotal evidence.
Since people tend to be sceptical, especially when faced with impending change, there is no substitute for taking the time to plan thoroughly and present a message which is persuasive and backed by sufficient data.
Walking the Talk
Personal experience often shapes attitudes and opinions far more than a directive from the chief executive. Therefore it is never enough for you, as a leader, simply to tell people what results you want.
The tone and non-verbal elements of your delivery must be consistent with your message and your body language must fit with the message. If you are talking about a vision for the company, maintain eye contact with your audience. If you are introducing a new cost control policy, make sure your voice has conviction, and give an example of what action you have taken.
How you explain something and what you do often has a greater impact than the words themselves. It is up to you to “walk the talk”. If you do not, colleagues will be quick to pick up on clues that you do not really believe in your policies, and then neither will they.
Just consider the many instances of chief executives preaching the importance of customer service, but never bothering to meet any customer in person.
Make sure you create the right impression and remember that your gestures, tone of voice, movements and degree of eye contact say as much as your words do.
To inspire a team to follow your lead, you must also know how to speak the team’s language. That means showing an interest in their concerns and ideas, and making them feel you care.