The secret sauce in the very successful Toastmasters formula is peer to peer evaluations. Evaluations are structured oral and verbal feedback that members give to each other after delivering a speech. The structure will typically cover what the person did well as well as areas for improvements. However, the power of leverage that they provide to their recipient is sometimes overlooked. Both public speaking and leadership are vast and complicated subjects. Mastery of public speaking or leadership is hard but leveraging one’s strengths can help immensely, here’s why.
Leverage is self-awareness
By opting to leverage your strengths to mitigate your weaknesses. You are acknowledging that you have areas for developments as a speaker and as a leader. Self-awareness is a trait that’s often lacking nowadays. However, it is crucial to know where you stand in your own journey as a public speaker or leader. As part of a process of creating a vision and goals for yourself. Discovering what others perceive as your own strengths as a speaker or a leader can be a scary process. If the results aren’t the ones you expected, it can even be confusing and even demotivating at first. Nevertheless, the old adage of “knowledge is power” applies here. Once you know what you are good at, you can choose to do it again on purpose to mitigate your areas for improvement.
A mistake that novice presenters and public speakers make is to imitate somebody else. This never works in the long-term and doing this may even prevent you from making up the most of your own strengths!
Leverage your strengths into super-strengths
When I started my own journey into executive-level leadership in the past few years. One of the first things I had to do prior to attend training in Canada was to take a Myers-Briggs test. The results came out as ENTJ, the rarest personality type, the field Marshall or commander. According to the test, I am somebody that can turn chaos into order by creating structures and strategies. I agreed with the result and the assessment that strategy and analytics was one of my major strengths. Little did I know though, that over the next 12 months it would morph into a super-strength, into my superpower as fellow colleague Aletta Rochat calls it. I had to leverage my strengths by developing comprehensive strategic plans. By finding new ways to analyse vast amounts of data and by having to translate high-level strategy into lower level actions.
I had never expected this to happen to be honest. But I now realise that I can perhaps push myself even higher when it comes to leveraging my strategic thinking skills. The biggest takeaway though is that I have learned to embrace my strengths to and accept that I don’t have to imitate someone else’s style to be a successful leader.
What is your strength?
The next time you speak or you lead, reflect on the feedback that others give you and ask yourself how you can leverage your strengths. If you are good at structuring your speeches, then remember that ‘content is king’ and that your delivery isn’t as important as you think. If you are really good at projecting your voice. Keep it up, and you may find that it’s a match made in heaven for persuasive speaking. If you are good at delegating, then keep using others as force multipliers so that you can get more done.