When I look back over three decades in business, I see how central our communications skills are to success. Leader Language : LLQi is about communications.
When I became a certified performance coach, I appreciated some of the psychology of internal and external dialogue. It probably wasn’t until 2009 when I developed my understanding of Emotional Intelligence that I really started to ‘get it’.
So where are we now? Well, I am now a Master Practitioner in Emotional Intelligence, a published writer, blogger, speaker, advisor, consultant. Call me what you like as long as I help fix your problems.
Every conversation, meeting and activity is a learning opportunity. My international work has helped me to pull a lot of understanding (and misunderstanding) into what is LLQi.
LLQi blends psychology, communications, behaviours into a way that is practically applied.Leader Language : LLQi, Neil Fogarty
Foundations of Leader Language
There’s quite a leap from talking about wanting to write a book and actually doing it.
Taking the leap
At the start, my biggest problem is that my own knowledge of a topic is light compared to subject experts. But I do come with advantages: a) it’s a learning journey b) I am able to connect different dots to build a story c) I am agnostic about specific topics whereas a subject expert many be focused on one area.
However you look at it, writing is research-intensive to begin with.
My starting point for the book was to ask 3 questions:
- What is a leader
- What is language
- How does it fit together
Out of this span a LOT of thoughts ranging from how to identify a leader and the components of internal and external language. Importantly, how do we embrace new thinking and apply it in a way that isn’t ‘forced’?
I started the process by reviewing my understanding of leadership traits and elements of powerful communication. I then checked with some very helpful psychologists. This was a mix of sanity-check where my general beliefs were challenged, followed by taking some new directions.
On from there, it was a case of reviewing a lot of work in the application of communications. This included leadership, collaboration, conflict, etc. and how culture informs and is informed by communication.
I tend to talk-to-think which can be frustrating for people who think that the first thing I say is my final thought on a matter. As I read numerous books on therapy and counselling, I would walk with my smartphone on standby.
Getting words down on paper
As I walked, I talked. I would speak into the phone, recalling key elements of books I’d read; connecting new dots; asking myself questions.
Over a few months, I had recorded hours of these and, from this, started to pick the bones out for the book.
Prepare to be criticised
With about 25,000 words done, I started to pass out the first half of the book to people who I knew were downbeat. I love upbeat people and am naturally drawn to them – my wife is super-upbeat, for example. But, if a book is to sell, I didn’t want people who wouldn’t sternly critique the text.
The feedback was that, whilst the content was good inasmuch as it was informative, it was a little dry. It needed more stories, metaphors, etc. and so opened it up to interviews with senior people in business.
Rip it up & start again
So the original 25,000 LLQi words have been shredded and rebuilt whilst modifying how the second half was being laid down.
Nine months on from the first words being written on page one, the book is evolving and revolving – and gets closer to the publisher being happy with the content.
As to the first words:
Before we get into it, let’s cut to the chase. This is a book about language and communication and how our current habits can inform how an organisation operates. This isn’t a book about ‘leaders’ but is a book about how anyone with leadership traits would gain greater influence through verbal, non-verbal and behavioural connection.Leader Language : LLQi – Neil Fogarty
The book has certain models involved that reflect input from psychology without explicitly turning into a psychology book. First, this is because I’m not a psychologist and we all hate frauds. Second is that, in my experience in the Association for Business Psychology, psychologists all have their personal favourites and many discussions slip into disagreements or a desire for proving the greater academic credentials.
As the book is heavily pushed towards practicality and applicability, I have tried to reduce the points of distraction.
I do tend to think that Writer’s Block is a real thing. I know that people say that if you are a professional writer, there is no block. Well I write blogs and articles all the time as they pay the immediate bills – and this blocks time off to work on the book.
I write in big bursts – I get tangled up with the text, working it into something legible. My obsession is to be the l’enfant terrible producing something that may not be palatable but can be ingested.
Inelegant but with a flow
I don’t consider myself to be an elegant writer yet but I know that I can create ‘flow’. Whether I am designing a workshop for a client, plotting out a a speech, or blogging… I focus on the flow. I like how people feel that I am just having a chat that happens to have a point.
Yeah, that would be a fair description of my style: a chat that happens to have a point.
So I am tidying the first 25,000 and laying down the other 25,000 – not too far off target in terms of putting a product in front of the publisher. It won’t be the finished article as none of my work ever is. Most of my work never can be as the topics of psychology, business, leadership are all evolving. What may sound great today can sound passé extremely quickly.
And here I sit, at the table with the Mac staring at me, challenging me to say something. Killing Joke sings on Spotify and the damnable hound lies on my chair, coating my stuff in beagle hair.
Killing Joke is leading the way
Dogs recognise leaders, regardless of age or title: they just know. They may not understand what’s being said, but they understand tone, pitch and volume. The damnable hound knows good behaviours from bad.
Maybe the hound should be at the keyboard at times.
Anyway, to continue the process of talk to think, I have been recording a series of 2-minute vignettes to try to cover the elements of leader language.
As well as keeping an eye on the videos as they are released on Vimeo and YouTube, be sure to follow LLQi on Twitter.