A brilliant computer scientist turned a college project into an Internet sensation. A rising star, he was the face of his business and heralded as one example of a new generation of Internet entrepreneurs. As the business grew exponentially, so did criticism that the CEO was too young and lacked the experience and leadership skills to run a public company. To maintain his position and keep control of his company, the rising star needed a crash course in leadership communication.
We taught the CEO that communication is every leader’s primary tool, and that he must communicate authentically to inspire others. We guided the CEO through a process of self-discovery to help him identify and achieve authenticity in all of his communications. It began with a Personal Communications Audit that helped him learn what people really thought of him as a leader and communicator. The audit delivered cold, hard truths. He had no idea that many of his communications were regularly interpreted as negative experiences. Following the audit, we guided him through a process of identifying personal values so that his decisions and communications were based on his beliefs. By connecting those values to business goals and aspirations we created a Personal Communications Guide. This authentic and powerful narrative became the foundation for all of the CEO’s communication. We taught him how to craft messages and communicate to engage both the hearts and minds of his audiences. Once his messages were developed we showed him how his body and voice often betrayed his words, leaving him open to misinterpretation. The CEO learned that there is nothing spontaneous about authenticity and that high-stakes communication requires thoughtful and strategic preparation and complete mastery and comfort with the communication.
The process reshaped both the CEO’s behavior and image. People noticed “something different” about him. His brash attitude was replaced by confidence and self-assurance. This leader inspired colleagues and co-workers to action. The impatient “wonder boy” described as “rude and disrespectful” had become a patient leader who cared about the opinions and contributions of others. One Board member described the results as a “personality transplant.”