In an Austin Powers movie, Austin loses his mojo when it is stolen by Dr Evil and then destroyed. The Dr Evils of leadership communication are corporate jargon (executional excellence, anyone?), and mojo-destroying PowerPoint slides, dense with data.
So how can you, as a leader, restore your communication mojo, if it’s lost or destroyed? Today’s leadership literature states that people crave connection and authenticity in their leaders. Where better to show this than in your communication, letting your communication mojo shine.
A skill that can help you build connections is storytelling. This is story shared by a leader who does just that.
“I grew up in England with two brothers. One of my brothers was learning to ride a bicycle and every Saturday my father would take him up to a nearby hill and he would pedal down, while all us kids watched and cheered. He used to do this with a bike that had training wheels and after many Saturdays of this my father took the training wheels off.
I was determined to repeat his feat and persuaded my father to let me ride down the hill too, on my bike with no training wheels. My father very reluctantly agreed. I was very excited when we walked to the top of the hill. I could see my brothers and friends at the bottom of the hill looking on. I got on to my bike and shot off down the hill and to my shock the bike started hurtling down the hill faster and faster, almost out of control – I could see the stunned faces of the children waiting below and before the bike hit the ground I hurled myself off onto the grass and rolled down laughing, much to everyone’s shock!
On that day I learnt two important life lessons: if someone can do something, so can I, and no matter what you are trying in life, always have an exit plan.”
This kind of storytelling, because it is a true personal experience, has a healthy level of self-disclosure and humility and helps people connect with you. It’s refreshing and packed with mojo!
But how do you get authenticity from communication like this? People can immediately sense authenticity. For any storytelling to work it has to be authentic. People will immediately sense if it is or not.
Imagine this story used in a presentation or woven into a team meeting at an appropriate point. It’s so much more mojo-laden than the usual clichés of “Believe in yourself”, or even worse, some turgid jargon-fest intended to convey the same message.
The Austin Powers film has a happy ending as Austin finds even though Dr Evil destroyed his mojo, he had his mojo inside him all along. He simply had to be encouraged to find it. So there’s hope for all of us as leaders: we have our communication mojo in us already, and just have to have the courage and confidence to set it free.