Authenticity is the most important quality in leadership communication today. With it, you can move people to action. Without it, you can’t even get a hearing. Where does it come from, and how can you achieve it?
First, you must understand that every communication is made up of two conversations. The first conversation is the one you’re aware of: the content. The second conversation is the one that most humans are unconscious experts on: the nonverbal one.
Most people think that the second conversation is merely an accompaniment to the first. In fact, recent brain research shows that gesture comes first, and it conveys most of the emotion that a communication intends.
It’s the nonverbal conversation that will make or break you as a communicator. It’s where authenticity is created or destroyed. It may confirm you as the top dog, sabotage your authority, blow your chances at getting a raise or get you the big sale, lose you the prize or win it—and on and on through most of the big moments in life.
Understanding and controlling this second conversation is key to leadership today, because it’s not something that you can leave to chance or the unconscious. There are simply too many decisions to be made, too many inputs to weigh, too many people to manage and lead. In the twenty-first century, the pace of leadership has accelerated, the flow of information has exploded, and the physical and intellectual demands on leaders have intensified.
Authenticity takes practice
You can’t rely on common sense or instinct or “winging it” today as you once might have done. With smartphones and YouTube everywhere, you have to assume that your life as a leader is almost entirely transparent. Leaders who rely on ad-libbing and improvisation risk looking unprepared and stilted....
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