When we reflect on and look at the way we communicate and speak we are talking about leadership. Leaders lead with their ideas, insights, words, presence and action. The way people speak and deliver words of praise or criticism reveals their values, beliefs and philosophy of life. It can make or break leaders because without trust there will be no followers. “Obama or leadership effect” hypothesizes that leaders will be measured and judged by their empathy, confidence, clarity, authenticity, and the impact of their communications and behavior, not intentions. Leadership is all about connecting, inspiring, and influencing others to come together and take united action.
Like it or not, our self awareness, mental presence, and confidence (mental state); elocution or mechanics (voice, gestures, movement, body language, and eye contact); and messages (verbal impact of content) determine how we are perceived by others and effect our ability to influence them. Effective leadership and extraordinary communication integrates ideas, insights, and information to inspire and influence others to act on their message. Authentic communication must challenge individuals in profound ways to choose action over words. (Obama Effect)
Lessons Learned from the Obama Communication Style
- Know and go with what you got –Be authentic
- Show understanding through empathy asking: “How do you think that would make you feel?” (Obama’s mother always asked him to answer this question when dealing with others)
- Do not fear or over react to comments by others–Be true to your values and take the high road when building relationships.
- Reflecting on life experiences keeps us grounded and our mental maps updated.
- Keep your on eyes on the prize – Have a vision
- Replace Yes, but… thinking with Yes, we can… and positive action will follow.
- Keep things in perspective and balance-Take vacations and pay attention to your family needs.
- No one is optimistic all the time. But anyone can learn how to adopt a more positive, healthier attitude. When you practice being an optimist, you’ll be on your way to being more confident, relaxed, humorous, and effective as a connector and communicator.
- Create “unique connections” by treating others with respect and dignity. When people feel accepted and respected they have the desire and motivation to collaborate, share information, and work together to accomplish goals.
- Provide a common language and powerful theme based on building coalitions and cooperation. Yes, we can. The focus is providing a vision, strategy, and tactics to support grassroots coalitions in understanding the need for change by building a strong vision for the future and creating trust through open and ongoing communications.
Finally, one of the most powerful lessons is to be an effective listener by seeking to understand others before being understood. You can do this by using the skills of clarification, restatement, and reflection. This type of authentic and active listening shows your desire to forge a partnership not just impose your ideas. You signal to others your desire to establish yourself as someone who is open, responsive, and flexible. Your goal in active listening is to create a positive and comfortable environment where participants feel free to confront different points of view because you are confident that listening doesn’t always mean agreement. By being an effective listener you show acceptance –without sacrificing your own style or point of view. To be an extraordinary communicator it is critical that the “message, mechanics, and mental frame” be in-sync through a common language of ideas and information that say, ‘I care and respect you and understand your needs and issues‘. This approach is vastly different from many leadership approaches that promote “polish and presence” as keys to effective communication. By utilizing The Obama-Leadership Effect ™, leader-communicators can authentically lead in diverse situations and strategically build trust and inspire others to believe in their message and vision. Leaders must find their own voice, so they can connect with followers and present themselves as authentic, inspiring and memorable leaders. Given your experience and perceptions–What do you think makes a leader able to connect and be perceived as authentic?