Are you a recently promoted manager looking for tips on how to make an immediate impact on your team? In addition to having more expected of you from a productivity standpoint, you’re also being observed for your skills in communicating as a leader.
When you show that you know how to build relationships by engaging co-workers, bosses and clients in meaningful conversations, you are moving in the right direction. The first step in communicating as a leader is realizing that your words are sometimes the last thing that people will hear. The first few messages that impact others come from your appearance, voice, posture and gestures.
When people hear that you’re a manager, they immediately see you in a new light. I learned this lesson when I was promoted from a first lieutenant to a captain in the Air Force. Inside I felt like the same person, but on the outside the double bars indicated that I was a leader. My head and heart had to catch up to that reality.
You don’t have to attend a boot camp to start using the military’s leadership communication principles. Just read the list below:
1. Confidence – “Outstanding, Sir!” — This was the standard response that I had to give at the beginning of my training to anyone who asked how my day was going. You can modify the phrase to match your personality and you won’t have to bark it out like I did.
The technique works to instill confidence in yourself and others that you can handle anything, regardless of how you feel inside.
2. Appearance – Polished shoes, a starched shirt and empty pockets without keys or change to jingle demonstrates attention to detail and the desire to look like a leader.
Are there grunge, jeans and t-shirt billionaires walking around today? Of course. However, they’ve already made their money and set their own rules. if you’re like most people in corporate America, this appearance guideline will serve you well.
3. Respect – We always had to stand at attention anytime a senior officer walked into the room. This requirement to respect the rank regardless of how you feel about the individual keeps you focused on solving problems and building relationships, not thinking about the personalities in the office.
You can never go wrong with consistently showing respect to others, especially those who are senior to you. However, respect does not mean agreement. In fact, you are expected to disagree and state your unique perspective in an articulate manner.
4. Preparation – When we left our dorm rooms for classes, we could not return in case we forgot something. You didn’t want to be that person who sat in class without their homework or notes because they did not pay attention to what they needed to bring.
Create a checklist for every meeting — in and out of the office — so that the day before you can calmly gather your pitch books, laptop, jump drive, AV equipment, directions, and anything else that you will need. Forgetting one minor thing on the way to your meeting can stay in your mind, disrupt your thought process and destroy your credibility for a presentation that you’ve worked days and nights to create.
5. Awareness – When a person of higher rank would pass me in the hall, I would have to stop and salute. The few times I forgot to salute, I was reminded in a very loud, candid manner by the senior officer. I had to constantly be aware of who was around me and what the situation required.
I’m not suggesting that you stop and salute people in your hallways like an officer trainee (OT as we were called). Rather I am suggesting that you condition yourself to remain present and focused on what’s happening around you so that you can respond from a position of power rather than weakness.
6. Purpose – We had to march everywhere we went for the first half of officer training and stillmove with purpose in the second half.
When you walk, talk and act with purpose, you gain confidence in yourself and your ability to lead. Even if you make a mistake, you correct it with purpose and always move forward.