Speaking effectively is important for leading. An influential voice is extremely important for ethical leaders who desire to influence more people. Think about it – one of the most effective ways to get people to buy into a concept or follow you as a leader is to articulate points that will inspire them. The good news is that any leader can become a competent, even inspiring, speaker.
I continue to learn this valuable leadership lesson through my own actions and those of others. Often, I leave the stage having given a presentation or led a workshop to hear compliments about my leadership ability. In most of these situations, I felt like I was only speaking. However, in my speaking, I was also influencing, which is leading.
Even when I think about famous coaches and business leaders, many of them are labeled great leaders. I would argue that one of the things most of them have in common is they are inspiring others, through speaking and motivating, to give their best.
Often, leaders speak to instruct. Consider mentors and how they use their words to instruct, advise and teach us to move forward. Even today, one of my mentors teaches me new information about leadership nearly every time we talk. He speaks to me in a way that facilitates learning for me.
Often, leaders speak to encourage. I once took a job at a company that was completely outside of the industries I was familiar with. I never would have considered the industry. However, the CEO invited me to an event and while there, I watched him speak to his employees. He spoke to them with such encouragement that every person at the company treated him like he was their favorite uncle. I went to that company to learn and to be encouraged by a leader who could speak to me in a way that led to my success.
Often, leaders speak to challenge. It is impressive to see a leader masterfully challenge his or her team to get the best performance from them. When I played football in college, one of my coaches challenged me every day in practice. He knew the right things to say to engage my competitiveness and make me excel. He is still one of my favorite coaches of all time.
In conclusion, I challenge you to think about this statement; “You cannot be your best as a leader until you are a speaker.” I encourage you to take a class or join a club focused on improving your public speaking skills. Competence at speaking will help you be a better leader at any level.