Traditionally, people have been conditioned to accept that a commanding tone of voice is key to leadership. Consider how as children we learn to understand that our parents mean different things when using low and high pitch. Think about how a statement becomes a question when accompanied by a high pitched ending. Tone is important, but today’s leaders must avoid the mistake of placing too much emphasis on tone of voice communication skills.

Research shows that tone of voice communication skills are important to leaders…

A study by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found that CEOs with lower pitched voices earn more than others and remain in office longer, and not by a negligible amount either: $187,000 a year higher earnings and five months longer service. However, this may still not produce the results required by today’s leaders.

While every U.S. presidential race since Calvin Coleridge has been won by the candidate with the lower pitch, in 2014 UCLA acoustic scientist Rosario Signorello presented research that showed how leaders also need to be charismatic.

But relying on these elements still falls short when seeking to command with authority in the modern collaborative workplace. Upping your accountability in the workplace is vital to command respect and take control. There are more constructive ways of relaying leadership than relying on traditional command-and-control communicative techniques.

… but the art of communication has changed

Communication today is faster and more dynamic than in the pre-social media age. People are better informed and more inquisitive. They question methods and methodology. Today’s employees respond to conversation rather than command. This conversation engages employees and helps them to take ownership of work-based tasks.

These conversations between leaders and employees also mimic how people use social media connections. It is no longer necessary for people to be in the same room to converse. What is necessary is to have an emotional and mental closeness.

We see four key competencies in the communicative capability of today’s leaders:

1.     The ability to communicate intimately


Never be afraid to show that you are human. Connect on an emotional level, showing willingness to empathize with values and beliefs. You’ll find it easier and more rewarding to exchange ideas and viewpoints.

2.     Earn trust


Learn to communicate with authenticity, and don’t be afraid to take employees into your confidence. Doing so shows that you trust them, and they will reward you with their trust in return.

3.     A good communicator is a good listener


Only by listening can you lead. When listening – really listening – you’ll discover the concerns, views, talents, and aims of those who you lead. And you’ll learn all of this in a fraction of the time it will take for all of this to ripple toward you through more conventional channels.

4.     Ask for feedback and accept criticism


Your people are the ones who know your leadership qualities and capabilities the best. Ask them how they would rank you, and request feedback on performance. Then do something about it.

In summary

Use tone of voice skills, but never rely on pitch alone to win authority. You’ll need to be charismatic, but unless you get close and personal with your people – even if you are thousands of miles apart – you’ll never fulfil your leadership potential. Use feedback on your performance to develop style and substance positively, and communicate with more authority by being less authoritarian and listening with intent.

Contact Primeast today to discover how an Emotional Intelligence course will develop and embed effective personal skills in the workplace, for leaders, managers, and employees.

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