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Qu’est-ce que c’est? What leadership language do you speak?

SPEAKING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE is difficult, but many people achieve it. Those that do will say that it’s just a matter of hunkering down and getting into the head and the world of someone from a different culture.

What’s interesting is that even within our own culture and official language, there are in fact many different languages being spoken. This is not a joke about regional dialects, it is about the importance of different psychological types, and how they respond to different ways of using our own language.

According to Jung’s psychological theory, a rational introvert will be more easily persuaded by language which gives a cool, calm, fact based assessment. A more intuitive extrovert will be turned off by this, but will be motivated by language which expresses an inspiring visual demonstration of possibilities. Some people are more motivated by language of opportunity, whilst others will be motivated more by words that talk about necessity. There are many similar variations of language based on how people prefer to communicate.

The surprising reality is that many people do not modify their language according to who they are speaking to. They just speak their language, the language which works for them, the way of speaking which they prefer. None of this is new, we all know people who talk in a way that always just seems to grate, and we know how limited their ability is to influence our way of thinking.

But how many of us have a conscious awareness of how we are coming across to people who we want to influence? How much do we adapt our choice of words and phrases to match what might match how they prefer to communicate? And how much more important is this when you are leading people, hoping and expecting people to follow you, working effectively in a team and influencing multiple stakeholder groups?

The solution is not as difficult as learning a foreign language, but it does take a purposeful and structured approach to understanding how people communicate. Many organisations now invest in psychological assessment tools to help leaders develop a greater awareness of their communication preferences and how to modify their language for different audiences, whilst remaining totally authentic.

With focused leadership coaching support, leaders can make a step change in their effectiveness to influence their key stakeholders, engage their teams and really fulfil their potential as leaders.

As a leader, what languages do you and your team speak? And what results are you getting?

Stuart Pickles is the former FD of Foster’s EMEA. He now runs AimHigherLeadership.com and is blogging regularly for Financial Director

Image credit: Shutterstock

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