Breaking Out of ‘Personality Prisons’ – High Impact Communication through Leadership Presence . . .
“As Leaders, we are always on stage. Every action, every reaction, every facial expression, is being watched, analysed, interpreted by a lot of people. And the higher we go in leadership, the bigger is our audience. So how we learn to use our actor’s tools – body language and energy patterns – can make a difference to the way we can walk into a hall full of people, and without saying a single word, energise everyone around. I’m sure you’ve seen people like that. And I’m sure you’ve also seen people who can walk into a hall full of energised people and without saying a single word . . . drain away everybody’s energy.”
These are words that participants hear as an introduction to the module on Leadership. Let us explore this statement further.
One of the fundamental principles of acting that I have learned over 50 years of performing on stage is, ‘experience, don’t perform’. If the actor experiences it the audience experiences it. If the actor is not experiencing it, no matter what stunts she does on stage, the audience experiences nothing.
As ‘actors’ playing leadership roles, we need to experience what we want our teams to experience. We can talk all we want about passion or commitment or urgency. If we are not experiencing it ourselves, our bodies will belie the words and distort what is received by our ‘audience’.
In order to make our bodies powerful tools that truly and congruently amplify the content of our verbal communication, we need, like actors, to tune our body language and energy patterns. Fortunately, this is not a technique that requires lengthy practice to acquire, but an attitudinal switch that can be activated almost instantly. This switching on happens when we realise that as people and as personalities, we are ‘processes’ and not ‘products’.
As ‘products’ irrespective of what we experience or ‘learn’ we remain the same. Products have labels like ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert’ or ‘good communicator’ or ‘bad communicator’. Processes don’t have labels. I could have felt introverted yesterday. I can feel extroverted today. Yesterday my communication was not too effective. Today it is brilliant.
Experiencing ourselves as ‘processes’ liberates us from our ‘personality prisons’ and enables us to manifest the presence required at this moment, in this situation, in this role, before this audience. We can then use our personalities as powerful instruments for communicating with and energising people without being imprisoned into set patterns of thinking and reacting to stimuli.
Theatre, as an actor’s medium, is perhaps the most powerful tool to empower people to be free of their personality prisons. (Strangely enough, when we are no longer prisoners of our personalities, we actually become far more powerful and attractive as people. This has been consistently experienced and demonstrated by participants in the “CorporateTheatre” workshops.)
Going further, the workshop explores the nature of high impact communication. In the process, we discover that no matter how good the voice, the vocabulary, or the multi-media, communication is complete only when the receiver has experienced what the giver wants them to experience. We realise that the receiver is as much a communicator as the giver and unless the receiver is fully engaged in the transaction no communication happens.
The giver of communication has to invest 3 key elements:
- Clarity – of the content
- Creativity – positioning the content in the receiver’s frame of reference
- Commitment – that the receiver should understand and experience the content
The receiver must also invest 2 key elements:
- Creativity – in capturing and relating the content to the right frame of reference
- Commitment – to understanding
Creating this attitudinal platform for communication does not need elaborate training or personal transformation. Fortunately, this too can be enabled almost instantly and instinctively by facilitating an environment where the giver and the receiver know that their ‘winning’ depends on understanding each other. The essential factors that create and sustain this environment and the leader’s role in doing so, are also explored during the course of the workshop.