EVERY TIME you SPEAK, you’re AUDITIONING for leadership

 In Author, Body language, Delivery, Environment, Facial expression, Gesturing, Job Interview, Learning from Luminaries, Luminary, Mindset, News, Owning space, Politicians, Q&A, The Winning Voice, Video, Voice

Speaking, usually, is easy – especially when the stakes are low.

Speaking well, consistently – in any interaction, encounter, meeting, presentation, no matter the level of pressure, no matter the level of audience seniority or size of audience – for most people, is not easy.

Why do I mention this?

My view is that when you speak, you’re always auditioning for leadership. For example, if you make a cogent remark in a boardroom meeting full of people with clout, those people with clout will remember you and your remark, and it might be the reason why you outpoint a colleague for a future, plum, high profile role.

Related to how brief remarks, cues and voice features can make you stand out in the workplace, below is a passage from management luminary Henry Mitzberg from  p. 224 of the book: Artful Persuasion, How to command attention, change minds and influence people by Harry Mills, MG Press, 1999 ‘The Mintzberg findings’.

I’ve bolded a sentence for your particular attention, with the idea of auditioning for leadership in mind.

‘Whether we like it or not, most of us live and work and work in worlds where we think, decide and act on the run – with little reflective, rational thought.  Some recent research by Henry Mintzberg found most of the managers he studied in the working world shun formal reports, skim magazines and merely scan the mail.

They pick up their intelligence from meetings, telephone calls, gossip and hearsay.  Agreements are commonly made during chance encounters in corridors.  They form impressions and make judgements about peers, subordinates and superiors based on a very limited number of interpersonal cues – dress style, voice, sex and age.’

The passage originally appeared in Henry Mintzberg, The Manager’s Job: Folklore and Fact in J. Gabarro (ed.) Managing People and Organisations, Harvard Business School Publications, 1992, pp 13-32

Own the Conversation

Over the next seven days consider what impressions your dress style, voice, remarks, background environment, facial expression et al, are signalling to people with clout.

What small change might you make in one of the above points to improve the impressions you’re leaving?


p.s. this post which contains a video clip of a speech by Cuban revolutionary and politician, Fidel Castro, might interest.

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