Leadership 2020: The Power of Certainty

2020-10-06

Leadership 2020: The Power of Certainty

No leader coming into 2020 was prepared the level of disruption that was to come, or the speed at which that disruption came towards them.

Almost overnight, the world stopped going to work.

With a pandemic spreading across the globe, leaders suddenly had teams working from home and out of sight. Many businesses had to pivot quickly to digital offerings to remain viable and serve their customers.

But pervading it all was a tsunami of UNCERTAINTY. When would the pandemic end? When could people come back to work? Which businesses would survive the storm?

Leaders in organizations large and small reported how difficult it was to lead when they had no concrete answers to give their teams. Team members felt afraid for their careers and their futures.

But some leaders were able to get their teams to thrive during the lockdowns and continue to build trust and connection with their teams.

Their secret?  They were able to generate the emotion of CERTAINTY in their teams and organizations despite the external circumstances.

Any leader that wants the trust and respect of their teams must have the skill of generating certainty for their people and using that certainty to drive engagement and momentum in their teams.

During Q2 2020, I had the opportunity to conduct webinars for over 2000 leaders from 13 countries and teach them about how to generate certainty for their teams with their language, voice, and body language. These simple techniques gave them a communication toolbox that enabled them to give their teams a sense of certainty and clarity that had been missing over the previous months.

Here are some simple examples I teach in my workshop and you can take with you:

Language:  If a leader says to their team something like “Nobody knows what the next 6 months will bring” they are actively spreading uncertainty. I have actually heard many leaders say this very thing on conference calls and it always shocks me!

Instead, they should communicate the same message, but this time with a lot of certainty built into the language:

“Whatever happens in the next 6 months, we are a team that can adapt and change quickly. And to ensure we can adapt quickly we will create 3 business plans of how to move forward in Q4.  We have already spoken to our customers and know their fears and concerns. We will be proactive. Together, we can ensure we continue to serve our customers at the highest level”

Which one of those comments would leave you feeling like you were in safe hands? Which one allows the listeners to picture in their minds the team working together and functioning at a high level? Which one do you think would make you feel safer?

The second example is full of language patterns that evoke certainty, direction, and confidence.

Voice Tone:  It is well documented how important tone of voice is.  The very meaning of a communication lies in the tone of voice it is delivered in.

Yet surprisingly, very few leaders spend time thinking about how they sound or the tone of voice they use.  I have in the past asked leaders to record themselves when they are addressing their team and listen back afterwards. They are usually surprised at how low energy they sound.

Speaking with an energetic tone and at a slightly faster pace than normal gives people a sense of you being both prepared and in control.

I also encourage leaders to train themselves not to rely on filler words like “Umm” and “Ahh” which can create a sense of doubt in the audience, as it breaks the tempo of the speech.

Instead, simply pause, and then begin speaking again. Pauses are often interpreted as being thoughtful and can bring a sense of confidence and authority. Most people are afraid of pauses in conversations, so they never practice them.

Leaders should be practicing pauses all the time! Great speakers know how powerful a pause can be!

Body Language: What you say can be directly cancelled out by your body language!  The message and the posture must go perfectly together.  Leaders can generate a lot of certainty simply by standing confidently with good posture.

I always encourage leaders to stand up when they are addressing their teams (especially on Zoom/Skype calls) as body posture naturally affects tone of voice and energy levels. It is extremely hard to achieve a high level of energy in communications when sitting down in a relaxed position.

These are just a few basic examples for you to think about and practice.

There has never been a more critical time for leaders to learn the art and science of generating certainty.

I look forward to working with you and your leaders!

Malcolm Larri

Leadership and Culture Transformation Consultant at Hammer & Hanborg

“Every day I help individuals and organizations create engagement and inspiration around managing change. When people understand the true value and contribution they bring, engagement naturally follows”

Originally from Sydney Australia, Malcolm Larri is an in-demand Coach and Speaker focused on empowering companies and individuals to use their unique abilities to drive positive change.

He is also the founder of Brave Personal Development and will publish his first book Hustle & Serve in 2021.

Malcolm and AVEQIA is now offering a joint workshop – contact us on 010-160 54 00 or via email bokning@aveqia.com.

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