As someone on the way up, you are a leader whether you have a formal spot in the upper echelons of the organization or not. You can accelerate your climb up the organization ladder by consistently communicating as a thought-leader.

Your words brand you. As they march out of our mouth on the phone, in an email, in an elevator, in the hall, by the coffee machine, with your manager, or in a team meeting, are they branding you as a leader?

Every time you have the opportunity to verbalize your thoughts, your goal should be to influence decisions by making your point in a clear and concise manner. If you do, the people listening will hear the voice of a leader.

Kevin Carroll and Bob Elliott in their book, Make Your Point,  tie your ability to communicate to your personal brand. They have a unique way of looking at you as a walking, talking product. They maintain your ideas are products that need packaging and advertising if you want your message to stick in the minds of your listeners. To brand yourself as a leader others will listen to, use the tips below:

1.    Product tips: Your words are your product. Choose them carefully to ensure they convey your verbal message accurately.
2.    Packaging tips: Packaging involves the entire non-verbal message you deliver from the way you dress to the enthusiasm you portray. Dress appropriate and convince people to your viewpoint with confident body language, a convincing smile and bright eyes.
3.     Advertising tips: Deliver your message using imagery, metaphors, anecdotes, props, and anything else that will concisely outline the benefits of your proposal. Make your presentation dance with delight before the prospective buyers of your ideas.

The last tip is to carefully plan your next opportunity to conduct a meeting, persuade to a course of action, or sell your idea for the next team building retreat.  People will listen to you and respect you as a leader.

The True Leader Quiz: What would you do?

Read the situations below and think about what you would do in a similar situation. Do your thoughts match my thoughts? 

Situation #1– Bill rambled on at the retreat about how the New Year would be the best year yet for the company. But everyone zoned out about 10 minutes into Bill’s 30-minute speech and had no clue what they were to do to make the New Year a success.

RECOMMENDATION: Before an important presentation such as this, check with the presenter, go over the notes and the end game. What will the Call to Action be for the team?  

Situation #2 – 
Aaron started the meeting on the new product launch with these words between coughs: “I’m not feeling very well today and didn’t get the agenda out, but we’ll still meet for the entire allotted time.” Fifteen minutes later attendees were impatient as the discussion rambled from point to point.

RECOMMENDATION: Aaron should have postponed the meeting. If you were managing Aaron, and you knew before the meeting that Aaron was not feeing well, you could describe the importance of the product launch and make the point that waiting until he felt better was the best way to launch the product with energy and enthusiasm. 

Another side note: Never apologize when you start a presentation.  

Situation #3 – Allison laughed and with a dismissive air said: “That is a really silly idea. It would never work.”

RECOMMENDATION: Help Allison understand that most ideas have some components that could be helpful in solving problems and improving innovation. 

Encourage Allison to listen carefully and find some aspect of the suggestion that has merit. Compliment that element and ask additional questions.

By using the words “silly idea” and “it would never work,” Allison is shutting the other person down. It is 95% sure they will never offer another idea.

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