Ideally a leader should approach an audience, whether it's a group of people or an audience of one, as a future partner who has the potential to be an effective teammate to help you complete a task, launch a project or contribute in some meaningful way to the company's mission.
To cultivate partners to be effective members of a team, a leader must learn to listen and understand what motivates people to act. Some obvious first questions to ask yourself are, "Does this person want to grow their career", "Are they looking for opportunities to shape the direction of the company", "Do they want to be a difference maker" or "Are they just plain bored"?
Understanding the goals and motivations of your audience will be a big first step in helping you to tailor your approach to win them over.
Secondly, it's important to bear in mind that interpersonal communications can be very complex due to the wide range of personalities one encounters. Everyone comes to the conversation with their unique style: some are very dominant in their approach and want to direct the flow of conversation; others are more reticent and happy to absorb content; there are the brainy folks who are very analytical and process driven; while still others are naturally team-oriented and very open to engaging in honest dialog. In our consultancy, we like to use the DISC personality profile indicator to help navigate this puzzle. DISC provides indicators of communication preferences and motivators for different types of personalities. If you'd like to learn more about it, click here.
Learn to read non-verbal cues during your interactions to help you understand what impact your words are having on different personalities. Developing this active listening muscle will help you to be more nimble in your communication approach so you can adjust on the fly when needed and ultimately spark those "Ah Ha" moments in your audience to leave them with a lasting memory about why they were listening to you in the first place.
Successful leaders know how to read their audience and adjust their communication style appropriately in order to create an audience of active listeners. These people you are talking with, who you are trying to lead, should not be treated as followers! They are partners in a two-way growth relationship that will only mean something if there is an invested interest on both sides to work together.
Leadership is a common area of focus for us with parking industry clients, which is one of the reasons we are sponsoring IPI's Leadership Summit in Denver, Colorado next week. If you want to learn more about Leadership techniques and how to win over peers and decision-makers, join Colleen Niese for her session, "Influence Without Authority" at the IPI Leadership Summit.