As a leader, you need to imbue your words, actions and stories with passion and authenticity. Emotional expressiveness is a matter of choice of words. Every time you want to communicate a message, incorporate specific, dynamic verbs that characterize your intentions.
In the work I do coaching leaders, I find many who are passionate about their work, but they don’t express it sufficiently in everyday communication.
Leaders generally try to explain or relay information. This very act lacks energy, passion and/or tension. Instead of using dry, colorless verbs to convey your point, substitute action words that carry emotional intensity.
For example, don’t “make an announcement to explain upcoming changes.” Instead, “challenge people to make some adjustments” or “overcome obstacles to success.” Focus on what truly matters: your passionate purpose.
Use Leadership Stories
Have you ever noticed what happens in a conference room full of people when a speaker starts telling stories? People sit up straight and lean toward the speaker. They put down their smartphones, stop texting and begin to pay attention.
Effective storytelling goes beyond the conference room. The minute your boss tells you a personal story, you listen intently because you’re gaining a glimpse into his or her true passions.
Telling stories helps you express yourself naturally. You needn’t be an accomplished or trained speaker to come across as genuine and interesting. When you tell a personal story, your voice, body and emotions work in concert to create authenticity.
You generate emotional responses from your audience, touching both head and heart — a far cry from relying on PowerPoint presentations and ordinary bullet points.
Authors Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern suggest in their book Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire asking three questions for developing emotional expressiveness. Connect with your inner passions by asking yourself:
- What am I fighting for?
- What do others want?
- What are the obstacles?
Use your answers to choose verbs that capture your passionate purpose.
Never forget that every human interaction — from meetings and presentations to memos and face-to-face conversations — involves needs and desires, real or potential conflicts. These pivotal moments are opportunities to change minds and influence behavior.
Your goal is to identify the desired change or problem to be overcome and invest it with energy and passion.