Categories: Lead Positive, ABT Tools & Tips
Soul: Your Skin in the Game
The soul of what you say refers to the why—why the message is so important to your listeners, your mission, and you. Most leaders shortchange soul. They assume that the why of their message is self-evident and does not need to be stated explicitly. Nothing could be further from the truth.
People have a built-in Geiger counter as to whether leaders are being true to their values. Often leaders think their teams don’t care what the leader thinks is important–they only care what is in it for them. People do care most about their own well-being, but that is why they need to know that their leaders have personal skin in the game. If a trusted leader is genuinely committed and personally invested in a cause, then it lowers the bar for followers to get on board.
When it comes to saying it with soul, you, not your words, are the message.
How to Say it With Soul
Use the following Self-Others-Situation framework from Lead Positive to craft a soulful leadership message.
Identify what you want to be meaningful and inspiring in your message. A “speech act” is defined as communication that is designed to get the listener to do or realize something. Review the list of speech acts below that relate specifically to the asset of soul and decide which are most relevant to your message.
Soul-oriented speech acts will help you connect on the human-to-human “why” level. Notice how each of the words on this list reflects your values and character, as well as the underlying importance of your message. I recommend you use the pronoun “I” often—I pledge, I believe, I am committed, I am inspired—as you craft your message to underline your skin in the game.
How does the message you are about to deliver relate to your mighty cause? Why is this message meaningful to the group? Why should your audience commit themselves to supporting this effort? Which of their values and beliefs does it serve? How does your message inspire a deep sense of purpose in others?
With substance, you give others a clear call to action. With sizzle, you offer others an invitation to feel. And now with soul, you provide others with meaning and purpose.
You have heard the phrase, “timing is everything.” This adage is especially true when it comes to communicating soulfully. Look through the situation lens to determine how best to convey why your message is so important at this moment in time.
The situation at hand also provides you with ideas about how to position the message. Consider the following situational factors related to timing.
Past the deadline
A perfect moment
A chance to get ahead of the curve
How the leader sees the time factor can spur people to action. Using the asset of timing is one more situational variable you can use to increase your communication effectiveness.
Can you think of a great leader whose messages are filled with soul?
Kathryn D. Cramer, PH.D.
Founder and Managing Partner, The Cramer Institute