5 More Power Cues for Leadership Communication

I’ve been reading and sharing about how leadership communication is crucial for sending powerful messages. In my last post, I shared the first two of 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

Here are details on the remaining five power cues that leaders can practice to improve the impact of their communications:

  • Unconscious Messages: Read others’ unconscious messages. Observe your own mirror-neuron experiences. Become attuned to the hidden messages sent out by everyone around you.
  • Leadership Voice: You can turn your voice into a commanding instrument that helps you take charge of a room. Fine-tune your voice to lead your peers.

    Each of us emits low-frequency sounds when we speak — tones that help convey our leadership presence. People unconsciously defer to leaders who produce stronger low-frequency sounds. You can learn to increase your voice’s leadership potential through breathing dynamics, vocal exercises and practicing vocal tonality. Some leaders choose to work with a voice coach.

  • Social Signals: The fifth power cue combines your voice and a host of other social signals to greatly increase your success in pitches, meetings, sales situations and the like. What signals do you send out in work and social situations?Establish the right levels of energy and passion to win the contract, negotiation or raise.

    MIT researchers have pinpointed four patterns of behavior that predict success or failure in key human interactions:

o   Influence – Boost your positional power, emotion or expertise. Control the give-and-take tempo of a conversation.

o   Mimicry – Consciously copy others and then lead them.

o   Activity – Focus more intently on the conversation, meeting or presentation.

o   Consistency – Increase your consistency to gain support; decrease it to show openness.

  • 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 dialogues 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’s one thing to work on improving 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.

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