Leadership comes naturally for some and for others it is a skill that can be developed over time. Leadership styles are distinctive to each person.

In the business world, the one arena where leadership can be practiced and developed is in meetings of various kinds.  Whether online or in person, meetings take up a substantial part of a businessperson’s week. This presents many opportunities for the honing of leadership and influencing skills.

The new buzz-word in the media is that one must be an “influencer”. Being a true influencer is not just a matter of who can be the loudest and “in your face” the most, but rather someone who can inspire others to action by example. In a meeting a true leader will not only know what to say and how to say it, but also when to speak and when to let others take the floor. 

There are a few simple things one can do to enhance one’s speaking abilities in meetings:

Come Prepared

Unless scheduled last minute, a person usually knows that you will be going in to a meeting a few days in advance.  It is good practice to be organized and if you are called on to speak up; you will be able to contribute valuably. Stay on topic and to the point. Making notes before a meeting can stand you in good stead. If you are well prepared you will also be able to ask relevant and meaningful questions to stimulate input and discussions from other colleagues.

Attitude is Key

Remind yourself why you are there and why you want to contribute. Loving the sound of your own voice and opinion is sure to discourage colleagues, while being passionate and informed will surely fuel cooperation. Coworkers are more likely to be influenced by someone who is leading with zeal and conviction, than a bored and disinterested “expert.”

So, when should you refrain from speaking? 

Boastfulness

When speaking is more about you showing off knowledge or airing your opinion, rather keep quiet.  Everyone knows that someone that likes the sound of his own voice. They are normally the ones everyone wants to avoid. If you want to be an effective leader and influencer, lead the way with actions and the right measure of words rather than too many.

Empowerment

Teamwork and cooperation is fostered when all participants are empowered to contribute and add value. Sometimes keeping quiet and holding back an opinion will lead to someone else being courageous enough to ask questions and voice their view. A different or fresh point of view can provide additional insights and solutions. Letting others speak can also enhance their leadership skills and develop their character.

When Private is Better

Oftentimes speaking to a colleague behind closed doors is best.  Unnecessary conflict within a business environment can be avoided by talking privately to someone, rather than addressing an issue in a group where the person will feel defensive. No one likes to be critisised in a crowd. A concientious leader will respect others enough to address sensitive matters on a one-to-one bases rather than in public.

So, if you want to raise your visibility and distinguish yourself as a leader, speak up in meetings with these giudelines in your toolbox. Build relationships and foster trust by how and when you speak, but remember: leadership is an action, not a position…

Red Dot Now provides accounting, payroll and tax compliance services using the best of breed online technology.

Should you want to discuss this or any of their services further, contact Ryan Coates on e-mail at ryan@reddotnow.com