In May 2003, the International Consortium on Emotional Intelligence Research produced a paper called “Resonant Leadership”. Research was conducted with hundreds of companies to identify emotionally resonant leadership qualities. Resonant leaders are defined as leaders who are able to drive the collective emotions of a team to a positive realm to add economic value. They found these resonant leaders were optimistic, trusted people, had a sense of humour and that they created environments in which teams caught fire and did very well. However, the research also showed that the dissonant leaders who were negative, cynical, abrasive, command and control leaders, created environments in which teams divide.
We have also come to understand that effective communication is the sister of leadership. Therefore, by enhancing our communicative behaviour we can develop our leadership style and impact.
Strategic Communication is one of the most powerful persuasion tools in business to enable you to deflect negativity and enhance or amplify your objectives. According to Shayna Englin, who teaches public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown, “being strategic means communicating the best message, through the right channels, measured against well-considered organisational and communications-specific goals.”
The Strategic Communication Formula is based on how we process information. Essentially, there are only five key retention devices to ensure the listener will remember what we have said.
The opening moments of communication are absolutely critical. Media Research has shown that we have less than 30 seconds to make an initial impact. Professor Michael Shea, who was the professor of communication at Strathclyde University in Scotland, said that we are lucky if we get 15 seconds. We live in a tele-visual age and we are trained to read people shorthand.
High level communication needs to be short, special and positive. Our opening responses need to be relevant in our environment and interesting enough to attract attention and create a desire to know more. We must start with something unusual, unexpected and special.
The conclusions are as important as the introductions. Great speakers call this technique, “Commandeering the precious ending.”
In the middle of the formula is where we expand the idea and introduce the negative. By enclosing the negative with a positive we are able to minimise its impact. The cardinal rule is to never start with the negative, as it opens negative windows in people’s minds. Once this is open, they don’t close as they assess everything that you say against that negative.
Enthusiasm is based on a communications law called the 85/15 principle, because humans respond 85% emotionally, and 15% rationally. It takes vitality, energy and enthusiasm to sell ideas and that is conveyed through the animation on the face; the modulation of the voice; how well you project; resonance in the voice; and gestures you may use to amplify your objective.
For leaders, the only power one always has is that of influence. A leader has to sell the idea and not just merely respond to questions by giving out information. That is why the formula is called Strategic Communication – communicating to the right person, at the right time, in the right way to get the desired outcome beneficial for all.