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Finding your voice as a leader

I recently saw The King’s Speech and I highly recommend it. From the incredible acting to the music to the different take on a historic time – it is a fantastic film.

The film depicts the story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu accession to the throne, and Lionel the speech therapist who helped him find his voice. The king’s challenges were magnified by a stammer that caused many to perceive him as unfit to be king. After all, this was the time where charismatic leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini used speeches to persuade large numbers of people to follow them. If the King of Britain couldn’t speak to his people, how was he expected to lead them?

The King’s journey is fascinating to watch. There are also many lessons to take from the movie, and one that stood out is how important it is for leaders to communicate effectively.

Leaders spend most of the day communicating with people – about goals, problems, operations, and ideas. Once those ideas are clear, the leader needs to communicate how to make them a reality. If a leader can form a connection through the way he or she communicates, a leader is able to accomplish a lot more.

If you tend to ramble in your written or verbal communication, and you do not articulate well your point of view – you may confuse and frustrate your subordinates. Leaders without sound communication skills will find themselves at a disadvantage.

Here are some development tips for those who need to sharpen their communication skills.

• Plan your communications. Whether written or verbal communications, first write down the points you want to make. Sequence the points, placing your main points first, followed by the supporting reasons. Do not bury your main points in the middle of a paragraph.

• To improve your presentation skills, consider joining Toastmasters, or take a public speaking or acting class. Practice your presentation in front of a mirror. Ask people for feedback about your presentation.

• To confirm that your message was clearly stated, ask your listeners to summarize what you have just said. Take this opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings; make note of what they were and how you can prevent similar misunderstandings in the future.

• Examine your organization’s materials that discuss its corporate vision, goals, and strategies and plan a staff meeting to explain how these relate to your group’s goals and objectives. Solicit feedback on your presentation style.

The ability to communicate is often taken for granted – until you see a movie like The King’s Speech that reminds you of the need for proficient communication skills in a leader.

Here’s one of the best exchanges from the movie.

King: L-listen to me…listen to me!

Lionel: Why should I waste my time listening to you?

King: Because I have a voice!

Lionel: …yes, you do.

Don’t underestimate how the power of words can positively influence the attitudes and behaviors of those you lead.

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