Executive Presence Article 6: The Mastery of Influential Leadership



In the realm of leadership, the art of persuasive communication is key for success. Astute leaders comprehend that defining an organisation’s strategy extends beyond crafting formal documents or dispatching emails; it requires the utilisation of the organisation’s structure, harnessing its cultural ethos, and embracing the pivotal role of convincing communication. In this article, we will explore how leadership can strategically deploy an organisation’s structure to effectively convey its strategy, delve into the importance of an organisation’s cultural fabric as a mechanism for communication, and underscore the central role of compelling communication for leaders in accomplishing their goals.


The Inspiring Story of Sir Douglas Mawson


To illustrate the transformative power of persuasive leadership communication, let’s turn to the inspirational figure of Sir Douglas Mawson, a renowned Australian Antarctic explorer and geologist. Mawson’s remarkable journey to Antarctica in the early 20th century exemplifies his exceptional ability to share his vision and purpose persuasively.


Sir Douglas Mawson led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition from 1911 to 1914, with the primary goal of scientific exploration in the uncharted regions of Antarctica. During the expedition, Mawson and his team faced extreme conditions, including blizzards, frostbite, and the loss of crucial supplies.


Despite these adversities, Mawson’s persuasive leadership kept the team motivated and committed to their mission. His ability to communicate the importance of their scientific work, the legacy it would leave, and the impact it could have on understanding the Earth’s climate and geology inspired unwavering dedication.


Mawson’s leadership extended to his persuasive narrative, which he skilfully crafted through writings, lectures, and public speaking upon his return. His vivid accounts of the expedition’s challenges, discoveries, and triumphs captivated audiences worldwide. Mawson’s persuasive storytelling not only shed light on the scientific achievements but also conveyed the significance of exploration and knowledge for the betterment of humanity. This caused a groundswell of support for him, his team and the cause he was pushing for.


Strategies for Structure-Driven Strategy Communication


The structure of an organisation, encompassing the arrangement of teams and departments, can and should be leveraged to communicate the organisation’s vision and strategy. While verbal and written channels of communication are indispensable, structural changes can amplify the strategic message. Here are some methods to ensure that an organisation’s structure effectively conveys its strategy:


1.     Promoting Cross-Functional Collaboration: Advocate for the collaboration of employees from diverse departments. By dissolving departmental boundaries and promoting cross-functional teamwork, leaders convey the organisation’s emphasis on unity and synergy in realising strategic objectives.

2.     Redefining Role Allocations: Assign new sets of responsibilities aligned with the evolving strategic direction. Redistributing roles and tasks communicates a shift in priorities and underscores the organisation’s unwavering commitment to its new strategic vision.

3.     Restructuring Hierarchies: Modify the traditional hierarchy of direct reporting. Altering reporting lines conveys a resounding message about the organisation’s emphasis on novel leadership paradigms and the significance of diverse voices in the decision-making process.


Harnessing Organisational Culture as a Medium of Influence


The cultural construct of an organisation plays a pivotal role in sculpting its identity and disseminating its values, norms, and beliefs. Utilising the culture as a conduit of communication can profoundly influence how employees perceive and engage with the organisation’s strategy. Here’s how you can leverage the organisational culture for effective communication:


1.     Articulating Cultural Aspects: Eloquent and clear expression of the organisation’s cultural values and norms through a well-defined manifesto is critical. Such a document serves as a guiding compass for employees, clarifying the organisation’s trajectory and expectations.

2.     Encouraging Informal Discourse: Nurturing a culture of open and informal communication within the organisation is essential. Leaders can engage in spontaneous conversations with employees to remove communication barriers and cultivate an environment characterised by lateral collaboration. Such conversations underscore that hierarchy is subservient to collective commitment towards achieving results.

3.     Cultural Alignment: Ensure that the organisation’s culture seamlessly aligns with its strategic goals. When the culture mirrors the desired outcomes, it evolves into a potent catalyst for employee engagement and dedication to the strategic vision.


The Pivotal Role of Persuasive Communication in Leadership


Persuasive communication stands as the linchpin of effective leadership. It embodies the amalgamation of the art and science of leadership persuasion, presence, and narrative, all of which are quintessential components of triumphant leadership. Acknowledging the centrality of persuasive communication is paramount for leaders aiming to orchestrate positive transformation and propel their organisations towards a brighter future.


·      Leadership Persuasion: Effective leadership revolves around the ability to inspire and persuade others to rally behind a shared vision. Leaders must wield persuasive communication to galvanise their teams and stakeholders towards a common objective. Persuasion acts as the propellant propelling individuals to accompany their leaders on a journey towards enhanced performance and outcomes.

·      The Impact of Presence: Presence constitutes an integral facet of persuasive leadership. It encompasses not only what is articulated but how it is articulated, the bearing of the communicator, and the impression they cast on others. A leader’s presence can instil confidence and trust, heightening their persuasiveness in communication.

·      Crafting a Narrative: Narrative serves as a potent instrument for leaders to expound upon their vision and strategy. Through the art of storytelling, leaders can simplify intricate concepts and narratives to create an emotional bond with their audience. A captivating narrative enables individuals to connect with the leader’s message emotionally, fostering commitment and alignment.

·      Navigating Adverse Situations: In testing and uncertain circumstances, persuasive communication assumes even greater significance. Leaders must adeptly communicate their strategies, decisions, and plans to reassure and guide their teams through adversity.




Persuasive leadership communication serves as an indispensable skill for leaders striving to shape their organisation’s strategy and achieve their objectives. By comprehending how an organisation’s structure can serve as a communication tool, harnessing the potency of its culture, and recognising the pivotal role of persuasive communication, leaders can navigate the multifaceted landscape of leadership with efficacy and triumph. Communication is not merely a vessel for transmitting information; it is the master key to unlocking an organisation’s full potential and propelling it towards success. Inspirational figures like Sir Douglas Mawson serve as a testament to the fact that persuasive communication has the power to transcend barriers, inspire change, and leave an indelible legacy, even in the most competitive and demanding of domains.


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