We’ve all heard it: that solid, steady, decisive, and clear speech that draws you in…and makes you want to follow…So, what is it? A deep voice? Strong messages? Humility? Good storytelling skills? The ability to convey a vision – the kind of vision that inspires people to follow you, motivates people to work hard, and connects people to something bigger – a group or a cause?
All of the above?
How does this show up in how we communicate? Are all good communicators leaders? Do all good public speakers show up as leaders?
A couple years ago, I was teaching a diversity training in Tampa. I’d never been to that office before. In fact, I didn't know anyone there. After lunch, a man popped into the training room doorway and looked in. I knew immediately he wasn’t lost down the wrong hallway looking for a different meeting. And I knew he didn’t want anything from us. Simply by the way he carried himself I knew exactly what was up: This guy was a manager doing a 'hello' drive by to pop into the training classroom and see what his staff were up to.
In this case, what signals was I reading? He wasn't wearing the nicest tailored suit. In fact, I recall that he wasn't in a jacket, and his shirt sleeves were rolled up. It wasn't the outfit. What was it? The confidence, the poise, the sense of, "I'm at home here?”
The real question I’ve been pondering is: How can my training as a linguist help people in leadership roles develop their own unique persona...and inspire followership? We use our words and our voices everyday to get work done and to build and maintain relationships. Some people do so more effectively than others. How can I use my training to illustrate how that is?