The language of leadership is often plain and monotone. Used to explain slides and with a screen behind, leadership language can be dull. I often sit in large corporate meetings and think that the TV weather forecast guy does a better job.
There are many types of ‘leadership dialects’ but these 3 are quite relevant. This is why.
Factual, descriptive: this is the strategic plan, these are the goals, and the challenges; this is what we need to achieve; this is the ambition. This style is rather common. It’s based upon the assumption of the universal goodness of communication. It is informational. If coming from the very top, it may or may not contain a revelation, something new. I am always surprised of how much no-newness is included in some top corporate speeches. Of course, as usual, the value is in the ritual of the top leader addressing the troupes. It is ‘hearing it from him’, more than hearing something new.
Aspirational: we thought it would take us 3 years, here we are today. It’s possible, yes we can do this; we are our own limits. This dialect is pulling quite a lot of emotions. It helps with the visualization of a destiny, small d or capital D. It’s not incompatible with the ‘factual dialect’ but goes well beyond.
Invitational: come with me, I need you, lets do it together; I cant do it on my own. It me be built upon factual and aspirational, but it creates a new ‘pull effect’. I am actually inviting you not just to understand the facts, not only to imagine a future, but to come with me and start walking.
In my experience in the corporate arena seeing and hearing leaders talk, this are my informal statistics of what I find: it is about 80% factual, 15 % aspirational and 5% invitational. Many leaders simply forget the invitation.
Formal communication training often stops at the obvious: (1) style: be authentic, be yourself, be clear; and (2) content: have key messages, be on target, be specific.
The key question, however, on top of the above, is to know what behaviours you want to trigger. The factual dialect produces perhaps clarification, rational and emotional understanding. The aspirational dialect produces motivation. The invitational dialect is trying to trigger action.
The invitational dialect is the most forgotten, yet potentially the most powerful. Don’t leave the room without an invitation to people. Small room, big room, small destiny big destiny, invite, always invite.
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