What qualities do we want out of our leaders?
Strength. Integrity. Confidence.
But we also want our leaders to be authentic. In fact, Harvard Business School’s Bill George recently said, “In the last 10 years, authenticity has become the gold standard of leadership.”
One of the ways you can increase your authenticity is by speaking from the heart. By revealing who you are, you can bring your team to a new level of trust in your leadership.
So, what are some of the keys to speaking from the heart?
1. Talk about your ordinary experiences
One of the keys to speaking from the heart is share everyday experiences from your life. While you may think your stories need to be exciting and extraordinary, you will actually have much greater impact if you talk about something everyone can relate to.
For example, one of my clients told me a story about how he designed a vehicle for the Moon — definitely a “wow!” But think about your emotional reaction…not very intense. Another client (from Saudi Arabia) told me about his experience seeing his first baseball game. When you hear a story like that, you connect with memories you may have of going to your first sporting event. The Moon vehicle story will connect you to the imagination of your audience, but the baseball game story will connect you to the heart of your audience.
2. Be in the moment
Another key to speaking from your heart is to be in the moment. You have to stay focused on the immediate, not what you just said or what you’re going to say next. When you’re in the moment, you will naturally connect with your feelings. As you connect more with the feelings associated with your stories, your audience will connect with you. It’s not about letting go and being emotional; it’s about concentration in the moment.
3. Think in terms of images, not words
Finally, when you talk about your life experiences, concentrate on the images in your mind’s eye, not the words that describe them. When you’re sharing a heartfelt moment, try to picture it in your head as vividly as possible. See the environment, the people that were there, and the feelings that you had.
For example, if I wanted to express how my team needed to push harder, I could tell a story about climbing a mountain in New Hampshire. At first, the path was winding and easy. But soon enough, the path became more vertical, and I had to focus more and push harder. Now, as a team, we’re on that vertical path, and we need to focus more and push harder. By creating the image of me climbing the mountain, I am sharing the feeling of the story, not just the words.
If you want to be seen as an authentic leader, try speaking from the heart. By sharing your life experiences, being in the moment, and focusing on imagery, you will enhance your authenticity and build a more meaningful connection with your team.