Abrasive or Persuasive: A Leadership Difference

Why do some leaders have a natural following and others don’t? Their chosen style of communication has much to do with their likeability and ultimately their success as a leader. In today’s fast paced environment, leaders are rocketing to new heights at a mind boggling pace and promoted because they are sharp, not necessarily because of their ability to connect with the group. Problem? This abrasive approach is used because of lack of understanding the benefits of a persuasive approach. This can increase the turnover of the best and brightest because they will shop for a more pleasant environment.

There are ways leaders could and should evaluate how they are perceived:

  • follow-the-leader1Use some kind of simple 360 instrument and ask for anonymous responses
  • Share the results with the group and ask for help in improvement
  • Pay close attention to others style of communication and approach
  • Stay open, honest and flexible

Leaders are persuasive by being present during meetings. Listening ‘between the lines’ and asking focused questions without showing any emotions or bias. Abrasive behavior is evident when leaders dictate, point fingers and show anger. Lashing out at an idea or situation from the leadership launch pad makes the top gun look out of control and weak.  Emotions and egos need to be checked at the door so different perspectives and solutions can be shared in an environment that is safe and non-threatening. Leaders can build respect by showing their confidence, humility and polished communication skill.

Here is a great acronym from the book, Crucial Conversations (Harvard Business Review Article):

CRIB to get to Mutual Purpose.

  1. Commit to seek common purpose. Verbally agree to arrive at a solution that is mutually acceptable.
  2. Recognize the purpose behind the strategy. We confuse what we’re asking for (strategy) with what we want (purpose). Focus on real purposes.
  3. Invent a common purpose. If you can’t agree on a mutual purpose, invent one that has a higher more encompassing long-term goal. Transcend short-term compromise.
  4. Brainstorm new strategies

Leaders do make a decision whether they know it or not. Their learned skills dictate whether they are persuasive or abrasive. Their launch pad should direct them to the persuasive skill needed for excellence, or crash them in the mire of abrasiveness.

Please share a persuasive skill that works for you or that you’ve seen a leader use.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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