As a leader, you may overestimate just how much influence you exert in your leadership communication. You may very well know the words you project, but do you know how they are perceived? What impression do you leave after a speech? Are you mastering leadership power cues?
While it’s nice to believe in personal autonomy, most of us have an exaggerated sense of what we control — particularly thoughts and feelings.
We can, however, learn to master seven power cues of leadership communication by becoming more aware of unconscious mental activity. You’ll be rewarded with greater control of conversations, meetings and personal interactions. While mind control isn’t in the cards, you can learn to become more intuitive. As author Nick Morgan asserts in Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014):
“Power in human communications and relations is indeed determined largely by the interplay of our unconscious minds…You can learn how to literally synchronize other’s brain waves with your own.”
Here are two of the power cues author Morgan encourages leaders to master for better communication:
- Self-Awareness: How do you show up when you walk into a room? Take control of your presence, and change both your thinking and the messages you send to those around you. For a long time, we’ve misunderstood the importance of gestures. Researchers previously thought the gestures that accompany speech were meaningless. We now know they’re meaningful and that they precede speech by a nanosecond or two.
The first step in communication mastery is assessing your posture, physical presence and gestures. Keep a diary or take video of yourself to evaluate (as objectively as possible) how you appear to others.
Self-assessment of your confidence, intuition and charisma starts you on the road to mastering leadership communication.
- Nonverbal Communications: Take charge of your nonverbal communications to project the persona you desire. Nonverbal behaviors are a natural expression of our feelings. Which emotions do you convey through body language during important moments, conversations, meetings and presentations? When you share your emotions, you can actually control a group’s mood.
Admittedly, it can be hard to think consciously about body language. Start by focusing on your emotions. Ask yourself how you feel about the issue at hand. Focused emotions greatly increase charisma. Prepare your emotions for important meetings, conversations and presentations, just as you would organize your content.
When you’re clear about your emotions, your body language will communicate them naturally. Others pick up on your emotional cues through their mirror neurons. You essentially “leak” your emotions to them.
These are just two of the power cues Morgan talks about in his book. I’ll share the others in following blog posts because they make a lot of sense and can help leaders improve the impact of daily communications.