In this series of posts on leadership communications, I’ve been sharing the seven power cues from author Nick Morgan in Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014):

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Non-verbal communications
  3. Unconscious messages
  4. Leadership voice
  5. Social signals
  6. Reprogramming the unconscious
  7. Synchronizing with stories

You can read about these key elements to effective leadership here and here. The last two steps involve reprogramming your mind and influencing others through storytelling.

  • Unconscious Reprogramming: Use the power of your unconscious mind to make decisions, rid yourself of phobias and fears, and create a more successful persona. You may need to craft and repeat a positive mantra or reaffirmation to program your thinking. Studies show that repetition works to change your thinking habits.Is your unconscious mind holding you back or propelling you forward? Shed your unconscious mind of the blocks and impediments to success.Your unconscious mind determines your emotional attitudes, which either help or limit you as a leader. You can take charge of your inner dialogue by replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Take charge of your posture and facial expressions through practice.
  • Synchronize with Stories: Put all of the steps together by mastering the art of storytelling. When we tell each other stories, our brain patterns synchronize and people are more likely to listen to you. Stories enhance your natural leadership capacity, increase your charisma and move others to action. Convey your message in ways that align people with you, down to their very brain waves.A great story is relevant to people’s universal desires and grabs your audience. Select one of the five archetypal stories: a quest, stranger in a strange land, love story, rags to riches or revenge. Tell the story in three acts: dilemma, conflict, resolution. Great storytelling is more art than science because you must invoke emotions.

Leadership Requires Alignment

When you’re more aware of unconscious behavior, you can align your conscious and unconscious messages for improved communication. This increases your authenticity, improves your ability to lead a group, persuades others and maximizes your personal impact.

As Morgan notes:

No one gets led anywhere they don’t want to go. Machiavelli was wrong; leadership is not manipulation, not in the long run. It’s alignment, the leader with the group and the group with the leader. But you first have to maximize and focus your leadership strengths in order to be ready when your moment comes.”

In the work I do with some pretty smart leaders, we spend time discussing leadership communication and the cues one sends out to others through both conscious and unconscious behaviors.

While it can be more obvious to see how to improve the conscious content of a leader’s message, it’s another thing altogether to work on unconscious signals. It’s harder and more significant than one imagines.

But like most things, effort and practice do bring about results. Maybe it’s time we talk about your own leadership communication abilities? You can contact me here and on LinkedIn.