For people new to leadership roles, one of the biggest development areas they often face is in their communication style. Working on a deeper understanding of their communication style and how they impact others is one of the most effective ways to improve how we work with others, ensuring they are on top form and ready to go.
“You cannot train a horse with shouts and expect it to obey a whisper.” Dagobert David Runes a philosopher and author who lived in the early 20th century.
It’s a deceptively simple quote yet it has so much meaning. It is also particularly relevant to what we do here at Leading Edge Professional Development. Not only do we and our horses help leaders by training them in a way that helps them see the development areas they need for themselves (i.e. a whisper), we equip them with the skills to be the type of leaders that lead by inspiring others (rather than ‘shouting’).
This topic of how leaders improve their communication is one that I’ve focused much attention on recently. In my years of professional development training, I believe that being aware of your communication style and how to accommodate others is the key to everything else: teamwork, motivation, success and happiness.
This is one of the reasons behind me recently becoming a fully-certified provider of the MiRo assessment, (the only one in Australia), a psychometric test designed to allow people to become aware of and understand their communication personal style, that of others and how this plays out in a group dynamic. The main types are as follows (each of us is made up of all four, we tend to have a default leading type):
- Energiser – gregarious, creative, and agreeable
- Organiser – interested in wellbeing, stability and helping others
- Analyser – detail oriented and look to understand things rationally
- Driver – innovative, adventurous, rational and assertive
I’m excited to be launching two new programs based around this, which include both online learning and practical exercises. The first, as I wrote last week, is about revitalising team communication, and while the other is about helping aspiring leaders.
For those new to leadership roles, working on sharpening your communication skills is guaranteed to help you through your entire career – and give you a fair and equal start. In horse racing terms, the ‘starting gate’ ensures an equal position for the start of the race. In leadership, you’re ready to take on the world aware of your strengths and, importantly, your challenges rather than having to discover later in your career what is holding you back.
Step 1: Check your own form
To be a great leader, you need to become aware of, accept and embrace your own communication and leadership style strengths and challenges. It’s often hard to do this on your own, without external input. For example, if you’re the ‘driver’ type as I mentioned above, you may have to realise your own style is very assertive, compared to an ‘organiser’ who will be more occupied with understanding their need to help others and maintain stability within a group. The assessments are far more detailed and nuanced than this, but you get my drift.
Step 2: Work out how you impact upon others
After you’ve come to realise and embrace your style, it’s time to understand what impact that has upon others. The way you come across to others might not be obvious. You’re a driver, you are assertive with all your great ideas – could that be coming across as aggressive? You’re an analyst – could your reluctance to act without all the facts be frustrating to those who are trying to move the project forward?
These are just a couple of simple examples – there are many permutations and real-life scenarios that a comprehensive assessment will cover.
Step 3: Get ready!
The final step, of course, is to combine what you’ve learnt in the past two to ensure you and everyone around you is working as best they can as both and individual and a team. From there, it’s a matter of practising these learnings in order to make sure you can apply them to real-life situations.
From there, you’ll have a whole new set of skills ready to take you forward and lead with integrity and confidence.
Our ‘Starting Gate Leadership’ package is based on the MiRo psychometric testing and our own leadership training which we’ve developed and refined over many years. It consists of three units, each with a group session with pre-and-post activities, plus weekly peer support. I encourage you to have a look here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like more information.