Warmth & Authenticity

 Q: I’m very comfortable talking to other senior leaders. But my colleagues tell me I lack warmth and emotional connection with less senior people. How do I do this in a genuine way that still maintains the gravitas and presence of a leader?

A: From what you say in the rest of your note you seem to have warmth and connection in your dealings with familiar senior colleagues or with people who share your hobbies. What you’re going to do here is get back to being your authentic self. And to build on what works for you already. The right level of gravitas will come through naturally.

Exercises

  1. Get real. It may be useful to ask yourself “what am I assuming that stops me from connecting well with less senior colleagues?” And “do I have evidence for this view/fact?” Often seeing something written down and challenged can start to loosen up your approach.
  2. Get over yourself. Go into situations with less senior people with genuine curiosity. Ask their views. Listen. Engineer a different communications forum that’s more relaxed and personal. Use your imagination!!
  3. Build on what’s natural to you. Think of a situation outside work where you are your most relaxed self. With the family? At the pub? With your football mates? Practice your next presentation or conversation ‘in the style of’ – talking and listening to one of these groups. It will feel strange. Good. You could even film yourself to see the difference or ask a friend to give you feedback. See what happens.

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