Nothing beats authenticity in leadership. But what happens when your authentic self struggles to communicate across divisions and get things done? No, you don’t have to change who you are, but you may need to expand your self-perception to develop the necessary skills to move the needle at work. For IT leaders needing to communicate complex topics to general audiences, this means having more social awareness and a strategy for captivating your attention while educating. Authentic leadership requires all-around emotional intelligence. This blog post will help you strengthen those traits.
Tips for Connecting Beyond Your Direct Reports and Across Divisions
The key to connecting with nontechnical audiences is to think more about them than yourself. Their needs. Their worries. Their perspective. When you put yourself in their shoes, you can see concerns and solutions differently, which will help you shape your communications. For example, if you need to convince a team of creatives that they need to install a security patch immediately, then instead of doing a presentation with “5 Reasons You Need to…” (from a data security perspective), tell a business story about why it’s crucial they install the patch and how not doing so could threaten their projects. Zero in and identify why it needs to matter to them.
Will it save them from getting hacked?
Will it prevent unnecessary business threats that can derail their projects?
Frame your ideas in a manner that stands out to your colleagues—not in spreadsheets they likely won’t care about.
What Is Authenticity on a Tangible Level?
Most IT leaders value a combination of technical expertise, business acumen and leadership skills. They care about how things work and why things are done a certain way. They value agility and responsiveness to changing needs. To connect with others in their organization while maintaining authenticity, tech leaders must intentionally connect with their nontechnical audience in an informative and engaging way that leverages these values.
The best IT leaders tell the right stories, use the right mediums and genuinely listen to their audience to know how to communicate better each time. They know that it is crucial to demonstrate authenticity creatively. So, if a presentation aims to get colleagues to patch their phones to avoid costly phishing attacks, the presenter may use a short story and vivid art to engage their audience instead of a spreadsheet.
Traits of the Most Authentic Leaders
The most effective leaders don’t compromise their authenticity or throw up their hands in frustration because “people just don’t get it!” They find ways to captivate and compel their audiences to act. They communicate policies in a way that makes people understand their importance.
Authenticity is the quality of being true to oneself, one’s personality and one’s character. But it doesn’t have to be a box that leaders stay in. It can expand with intention, self-awareness and a constantly (positively) evolving leadership style. Be honest and transparent. Share your perspectives and seek ideas for communicating better.
Incorporate Authenticity in Executive Communications Through Storytelling
IT leaders must first understand their audiences before communicating effectively with them. What do they care about the most? What does “job satisfaction” mean to them? How can executives make audiences feel like they’re under great leadership?
As an IT executive, you must know what people want to hear (and what their values and beliefs are) to find the best ways to keep your audience’s attention. Leaders can use real-life examples and stories that are relevant to make a connection with them.
Did you come from humble beginnings? Did you serve in the military? Was your upbringing so privileged it made you yearn for the alternative, which you later found out was a mistake? Infusing such authenticity in your communications draws people’s admiration and helps you make a connection—assuming the purpose of your talk is relevant to them.
Strategic storytelling is a powerful tool to help leaders communicate their message engagingly and authentically. Stories can be used to share personal experiences, convey values and inspire action.
The Power of Strategic Storytelling
Stories are more memorable than facts and figures, and they can help leaders emotionally connect with their audience. By using storytelling in their executive communications, leaders can create a narrative that helps people understand their vision and mission. Stories can also be used to convey the values of an organization and to inspire people to take action. When combined with multimedia or vivid art, stories can build the connections and trust needed.
Benefits of Authenticity in Executive Communications
Leaders can build a stronger connection with their audience by communicating in a way that aligns with their personalities and values. Authenticity also increases credibility, as people are more likely to trust and believe someone honest and transparent. Finally, authenticity fosters better relationships with stakeholders, which can help leaders achieve their goals.
Tips to Become a More Authentic Leader
Keep a journal. Make a habit of recording the most emotionally intense moments you experience (they come in handy for stories later). Look to art for inspiration more—think outside the spreadsheet and typical presentation. Embrace creativity and self-awareness. Know your strengths as a leader, and find ways to use them to connect with others.
Emulate What Great Leaders Do Well
What leaders hold your attention? Whose LinkedIn posts or YouTube videos have unlimited access to your attention? Put effort into discovering what it is about them that makes them earn your time, and emulate them in a way that makes sense for you.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, it is essential to deliver messages that are not only impactful but also authentic. Authenticity helps leaders establish trust and credibility, enabling them to connect with their audience on a deeper level.
Authenticity is an essential quality in executive communications, especially for IT leaders. Communicating authentically allows busy professionals to connect with their audience and foster better relationships with stakeholders. To incorporate authenticity in their communication style, leaders must understand their audience, use real-life examples and stories, and be honest and transparent. They should also use strategic storytelling to create a narrative that inspires action and helps listeners understand their vision and mission.
Need help drawing out your authentic leadership to get better results from your executive communications? Contact us today.