In their heads, the listeners are arguing
Because of this attachment to logic, many leaders struggle to communicate successfully, let alone inspire people. They get lost in company jargon and their messages are met with cynicism. A leader’s job is to motivate people to achieve objectives. To do that the leader has to engage the emotions of followers. However, leaders tend to construct logical arguments that discuss challenges and actions, building the argument with statistics and facts and quotes. In their heads, the listeners are arguing. They have their own statistics and facts and quotes. Even if the arguments are powerful, even undeniable, they may not have reached the heart, the seat of action.
London Business School’s Emeritus Professor of Organizational Behaviour, John Hunt, produced a study on ‘Introversion among CEOs’. It revealed that:
the majority of people who moved to top jobs are not all the smiling, hearty, extroverted types espousing vision, values and emotional stimulation described in popular reviews. In fact, whether in the private or public sector, CEOs are more likely to be introverted, task oriented and private individuals who do not find the drama expected of leaders comes easily.
Professor Hunt found that 70 per cent of the 105 CEOs he surveyed were trapped in logic and analysis, and uncomfortable about displaying any vulnerability. On the other hand, research by Cognosis Consulting of 1,600 managers in the UK discovered that the success or failure of any business strategy depends significantly on the ‘emotional engagement’ of employees and front-line managers. Leaders, said the research, need to go beyond ‘reason’ and conceive strategies that are not only intellectually astute but that also have real ‘emotional edge’. Here, then, is the vital gap. While most leaders are introverted, task oriented and logical, employees and other stakeholders want emotion. Again and again, I have found that stories can move people and fill this vital emotional gap.