We talk a lot about the need to communicate at every phase of the change process. Now I want to give you some specific communication techniques – part strategic, part tactical — that will make you a more effective change leader. It’s simple really … just Be Authentic!
Being authentic is about being believable. This morning as I was drinking my coffee and pondering where my University of Maryland Terps would be playing their first round NCAA basketball game, I was drawn to one of those up close and personal stories that ESPN calls SC Featured. The story was about Texas A&M’s head basketball coach Billy Kennedy’s response to and battle with Parkinson’s disease. Every word that came from his mouth oozed authenticity. His wife, Mary Kennedy, had that same authenticity. Their response was utterly believable, and because of their authenticity, everyone wants to help in some way. Now I’m not comparing your personal business change initiative with the seriousness of Parkinson’s, but we can learn from challenging real life situations and apply those lessons to our own change initiatve.
Nick Morgan’s book, Trust Me includes some ideas on being authentic. First, you need to look comfortable with what you are saying, so if you’re going to be speaking about your change initiative, practice beforehand. And even more important, you need to own the change. Even if you are communicating someone else’s vision or change initiative, find a way to make it yours. You must also know how to connect with the audience. Try to get a sense of their emotional state and talk about some of their issues and not just yours. Be passionate. Don’t just convey information; talk about why your topic is important and how you feel about it. Finally, make sure you listen. Get a sense of how people are receiving your information; for example, observe their body language and check for eye contact.
In the long run, we follow authentic leaders – do people view you as authentic?