Behave like a leader (even in English)
The easiest way to define a leader is “any person who influences people to achieve a goal”.
With this definition, everyone might be a leader even if he/she is not CEO of a major company: leading a project, conducting a taskforce, animating a meeting… Being a leader is a mindset, not a job.
Here is an overview of tips and useful tools to be considered as a leader and therefore be efficient at driving people toward the achievement of an objective.
1. Adopt the appropriate posture
As in any relationship, the key is to adopt an = / = posture: you respect and trust each other and give your best effort to reach a common goal.
The first important point in adopting an =/= posture lies in considering everyone’s time and energy as valuable as yours: do your fair share of the work, no more, no less.
You can also practice talking like a leader with the following tips:
• If you tend to feel inferior to your interlocutor, try to be grateful more than shameful.
Use “Thank you for your patience” instead of “Sorry it took me so long"
Or “Nice catch! That will help me improve” instead of “Oh! My bad, I am so sorry for this mistake”.
• On the contrary, if you have a natural tendency to be superior to your interlocutor, passive voice might help you to sound less bossy.
Avoid “You must do this by the end of the week” and try “This task must be completed by the end of the week to secure our project. Can you handle it?”
• In any case, be authentic and foster authenticity.
Express your point of view using verbs such as “I trust”, “I believe”, “I am convinced” rather than using "I think” all the time.
Do not equivocate when speaking about an important topic.
Be parsimonious in your use of superlative “tremendous”, “amazing”, “epic fail” … use simple and clear language to define the situation precisely.
Avoid using words such as “kind of” or “sort of” . Do not hesitate to name the problem: “we are facing a shortage of…” instead of “we have a problem with…”
2. Align everyone on a clear purpose
Align every action to a purpose. Ensure you highlight the expectation behind every task, mission, meeting.
For example, start all your meetings with the objective.
• An information or a brainstorm - “It is important that everyone shares…”
• A decision - “At the end of this meeting, I would like us to agree on… and that we define next steps”
• A call for action - “After this exchange it is important that you are able to share with your team…”
Display confidence in the achievement of these goals.
• Use the future perfect to talk about what you are committed to accomplish “By the end of the year, we will have saved up $10,000”.
• Express your firm emotional commitment “I’m determined to …” and be positive “I’m really looking forward to us launching this new product by the end of January”.
Express decisions underlining how they support your common goal.
• Explain the “why” and help people rationalize “This solution is the only one that guarantees a minimum impact on customer satisfaction, which is our most important KPI”.
3. Support people so they can be part of your success
Talk less, listen more.
• Ask open-ended questions and practice active listening by restating what your interlocutor has mentioned (insist on what seems important).
• Make sure you are not distracted and give all of your attention to the person who is speaking to you.
Encourage people to bring solutions, not problems.
• Make it safe to suggest ideas (even ineffective ones).
• Ask for facts “We need one more person working full time on the project to ensure we deliver by next Monday” not opinions “It is impossible to secure the deadline”. “We need one more person working full time on the project to ensure we deliver by next Monday” not opinions “It is impossible to secure the deadline”.
Understand what is valuable to them and give the recognition coherently
• “I really appreciate your time and dedication”, “You did a perfect job with this task, you should share it with the steering committee”…
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