To support the writing of the book “Leader Language : LLQi“, I am recording a series of 2-minute pieces to camera as a way to refer to the (many) aspects of leader language. This covers LLQi Agents, Conversational Ambiguity, Adult-Adult engagement, and Authenticity & Alignment.
A is for…
As to the question, “what are you?”, regardless of where you are in the hierarchy of an organisation, if the role calls for you to be therapist, coach, mentor, critical friend, motivator, performance manager, stakeholder engagement, change agent (the list genuinely goes on), all of them come down to a common denominator.
You are a communicator.
Within the setting of the book, you are an LLQi Agent.
You may communicate through words, actions, emails, spreadsheets or whatever else appeals to you but, in the workplace, everything rests on the ability to build a meaningful (LLQi) conversation.
If you look at the definition of ‘authentic leadership’, we talk about the internal and external alignment of feelings, words, and behaviours – something that an LLQi Agent will display.
This is probably a good one to start with as it refers to us being able to handle mixed emotions within us as well as willingly give up control of a conversation.
To explain: let’s assume that you are speaking with a client and the conversation is going great – the deal is being made. In the back of your mind is the calculator working out commissions, bonuses and promotions. For the sake of the example, let’s consider this to be ‘the big one’ – the life-changing deal. So far so wonderful.
And then the client makes a racist remark. Maybe a casually racist statement, maybe an invective-filled tirade. Suddenly, the internal mood changes.
Didn’t see that coming? Welcome to ambiguity.
Now the question is this: how do you feel about it and what do you do about it?
Let’s Be Adults
One of my main points of intervention is related to Condition : Recondition – this is where I support your high fliers as they step up into new roles and also work with key people who have started to plateau.
Set within is is a session of ‘shadowing’ – following the principal party in order to track conversational and behavioural traits. In addition to this, I cross-check a 25-point LLQi matrix and note down any observations.
As part of the shadowing activity, I refer to Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis.
Transactional Analysis integrates psychology and psychotherapy theories and is seen as an approach for personal growth and personal change. Set within this, Berne’s ego-state model helps explain how people function and express their personality in their behaviour.
Our thinking and conversations take on Parent-Adult-Child (PAC) ego states – and we can use different states within the same conversation. From an LLQi perspective, it’s important to identify the ego states of people around you and to work with them accordingly.
As an example, I have seen Controlling Parents in the boardroom that pushes people into a Child state with an expectation of them conforming to demands. Over time, the people force into conformation become the Adaptive ‘naughty child’ and rebel. This is where we can see resistance to change.
An LLQi Agent would take on the role of a Nurturing Parent or talk at the same level as the other person acts to create trust.
The ambition is to reach a condition of “I’m OK and you are OK”. This is the healthiest position about life and it means that I feel good about myself and that I feel good about others and their competence.
For rational conversation, move yourself and the other person to the Adult level.
Authenticity & Alignment
I’m going to work to the theory here that you are the kind of person to be appalled by the client’s statement. At the deeper levels of your brain, we have the Innerstate comprising our beliefs and values – the factors that determine our ethics.
If we believe that racism is fundamentally wrong and we value equality in all… but the deal is so good. It should be cut-and-dried but you feel that the deal is too great. We are now having an internal conflict between what we believe and value with the potential life-altering income.
At the Midstate, we will be recognising the beliefs and values and assessing them. Where do they come from? Are they valid? Are they negative or positive? This is the point where we might feel congruence (alignment) with the client. Importantly, this sets the tone of how we communicate externally (Outerstate).
If you are nodding and not disagreeing (not to be confused with agreement) with the racist client, we now see a mis-alignment between your Innerstate and your Outerstate.
Where is your authenticity & alignment? Is this sustainable? Now how do you feel?
The help to build inner conflict.
Now, maybe the client didn’t expect your response to such a provocative statement. So they are thrown a curveball and how they feel and what they do about it is called into question.
A bonus one for you…
When I work with clients, I always check to see where their ‘line’ is. What kind of conversations are taking place?
Here is authenticity & alignment in action – when we have people with a high line (so there is little being communicated ‘above the line’, there is a lot of information being kept back. Whilst the communicator may be aware of their beliefs and values, and understand the impact of them, they choose not to include it in the conversation. This high line makes for a more formal information exchange rather than a social discourse.
It also makes for a grim atmosphere! It makes for organisational toxicity.
Conversely, the lower the line goes, the more we give of ourselves – we build rapport and we create relationships based on commonality (as well as recognising what makes us different).
Those with a high line can be seen to have an ‘agenda’ whereas those with the lower line welcome balanced conversations and aren’t afraid of being honest (with themselves and with others).