Famed Harvard Psychologist Howard Gardner wrote “leaders achieve their effectiveness chiefly through the stories they relate and embody.” It is a leader’s ability to craft stories of identity or narratives “that help individuals think about and feel who they are, where they come from, and where they are headed” that “constitute the single most powerful weapon in the leader’s literary arsenal.” Note that it is not just the story, vision or communication of task but the mixing of the message with the values exhibited by the leader or how the leader models the way for others to follow. For example, one always saw Martin Luther King Jr. at the front of the march – his message matched his actions.
The challenge for a leader is that his/her story is often in competition or in conflict with the stories held by individuals, teams or the entire organization. This is particularly true in times of change. Thus a leader’s language of leadership can be the defining difference between the level of commitment, compliance or resistance exhibited by employees or teams during any influence attempt.
Leaders influence in a wide array of situations on a daily basis all requiring an effective language of leadership. These situations include creating a compelling reason for change, reviewing the performance of an individual or team, dealing with conflict, navigating the political arena and just being present for conversation. For Stephen Denning and others, this language of leadership can be learned and mastered to aid a leader throughout his/her day.
Tom Westbrook, Ph.D. will present, “The Language of Leadership” at the 2013 IBA Annual Convention. He will explore how your language of leadership can elevate your ability to Be A Superhero In Your Community.