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How to Read People and Influence Perceptions

I’ve learned in an over twenty-five year consulting career that my most effective executive coaching and leadership development clients are communication catalysts. They are authentic and help people achieve a shared purpose. They are optimistic and forward thinking.

One of my law firm Managing Partner clients recently confided in me that she was having a hard time influencing several of the firm partners on a new strategy for the firm. She logicallycountered every differing point of view, and yet hours later no one had changed their mind. It was as if the big egos in the room were locked in a battle of who was right and blaming the others for perceived failures.

I asked her “Can you give me a time when you did persuade them” She responded “When I focused more on how the partner’s values become filters for their perceptions”. A communication strategy she had learned in our coaching. I suggested that she give it a try again and see what happens.

At our next meeting, she reported that it interrupted the pattern of a battle of big egos and got everyone’s attention. The partners saw a shared purpose in the new strategy, and they shifted into listening mode rather than presenting endless logical arguments that impeded productive dialogue.

Emotionally intelligent leaders know that creating a workplace culture and climate where emotions are appropriately expressed increases engagement and moves things forward. In order for people to be fully engaged, they need to feel they are following leaders who inspire them emotionally.

Competition for top leadership positions is tough. Intelligence and good social skills are the price of admission, but they’re not enough. A high-potential candidate must master the intricacies of reading people, predicting behaviors and influencing perceptions—advanced communication skills that can be learned.

The effective CEO’s presence and essence have changed tremendously over the last two decades. There’s no hiding behind a title. What propels most executives to the top won’t keep them there for long, unless they can continually improve their people-reading skills and manage perceptions.

If you have talent and skills, you probably know by now that they’re not enough—unless you’re lucky enough to bear the company founder’s last name and are in line for succession.

Today’s effective leaders have more than presence, charisma and charm. They are strategic about managing their communication skills and adroit at reading others’ perceptions and values.

Perceptive leaders craft messages that meet their target audiences’ needs. They understand which information will be filtered out, how messages become distorted and disregarded, and how information is assigned meaning.

While they are savvier than most at reading nonverbal cues, preconceptions about body language may cause them to miss more important signals. Leaders must learn to identify how people’s values become filters for their perceptions.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for enlightened leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders develop a high performance business environment?  Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to fully engage employees.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “How effective am I with reading people and influencing perceptions?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for collaborative leaders who create sustainable businesses.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you create a culture where everyone is motivated and fully engaged. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders. Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

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