I have a CEO client, quite young and a high flyer within the organisation. He is passionate about leadership and has a determined, logical and analytical mind, all good qualities in a leader. In a recent coaching session he pondered on whether these strengths could become his weakness.
He was concerned that his natural, calm, logical demeanour, if not given some spark, could fail to motivate and energise his team. In large group presentations he wanted to be energised, inspiring and motivating to his employees but felt that such behaviour was ‘just not him’. He asked me if it was alright to put on a charismatic façade and therefore, in his view, be unauthentic. In fact his exact question was, “Is it wrong to put on a façade and pretend to be someone you are not?”
An essential skill for any top class leader is the ability to adapt behaviour according to the situation. For instance, some of the best, most dynamic speakers in the world are introverts who have learned to master the art of demonstrating extraverted behaviour when they are in front of an audience. They may undergo more stress than a natural born extravert when delivering their oration but are nevertheless impressive in action. Once the speech is over they are more likely to go back stage and rest alone to re-energise, rather than mingle with the audience or other speakers. Is this wrong? Is the introvert being false or fooling the audience with their apparent extraverted behaviour? Not a bit. They have mastered the art of being who the audience needs them to be at that particular time.
I asked my client if he had ever had the experience of feeling fully energised and animated, to the point where he felt he could inspire, influence and uplift the spirits of others. He recalled a time in his past when he really had experienced an energised and inspirational feeling. With some help from me he managed to vividly recreate that feeling and as I watched his physiology change it was clear that he really could call up that particular “state” if he needed to. By state, I mean the mental state of mind combined with the physiological sensations associated with that particular time when he was able to inspire and motivate others.
The client realised that he was not being false or unauthentic by using a state that was not his day to day, natural style. He was merely showing leadership flexibility by harnessing a state that was already his but usually hidden. As we go through life we experience many different states and they are all there, permanently recorded as memories in the subconscious. With practise and some simple NLP techniques, resourceful states can be recalled and brought into play when needed. In the case of my client, he now had his “charismatic and inspiring state” ready to be deployed the next time he addressed an audience he was keen to inspire.