How to Build Trust

How to build trust through delivery

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As leaders, our impact hinges not just on the decisions we make but on how we deliver them. Cicero, the ancient orator, nailed it:

“It is an absurd thing for the countenance to be full of motion and for the hands to be quiet, or for the hands to be in action when the countenance is at rest; but it is most absurd of all to see the rest of the body at variance with the face.”

How to Build Trust

Later he continues:

“For just as in the case of an instrument, a voice, or a song, a rhythm and measure are required, so in moving the body, there must be a certain harmony between our words and our motions.”

What’s the takeaway? It’s simple: Your body language, your voice, and your message are your power trio. When they’re not in concert—say your conviction wavers or your gestures don’t match the emotion of your words—the message falls flat. It’s like an opera without passion; the notes may be there, but they fail to stir the soul.

For those of us at the helm, true gravitas shines when our gestures, expressions and strategy harmonise. When that happens, leadership doesn’t just speak—it sings. That’s how trust is built and that’s how you inspire your team to follow.

Lessons from the Optus Outage – A Case Study

In a recent article ‘I Blame Aristotle!’, I highlighted an emerging trend in CEO interviews, a discernible shift from emphasising delivery in leadership communication. Based on this commentary, my analysis on Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosemarin’s handling of the Optus outage has been featured in Friday’s Australian Financial Review: “These are the Big Lessons from the Optus Outage.”

What’s the key lesson? Be prepared.

Historically, leaders like Andrew MacKenzie, former CEO of BHP, have been lauded for their authentic, visible and empathetic approach during crises. As MacKenzie’s coach, I witnessed first-hand the impact of such genuine communication. Today’s trend seems to be veering towards a different style.

Increasingly, we see CEOs and leaders relying on pre-scripted messages often repeated and delivered in a voice and manner that seem incongruent with the content. While structured messaging ensures consistency, it might not always convey the urgency and empathy required in a crisis.

The Optus outage response offers profound insights for anyone in a leadership role, prompting the question: are we ignoring delivery, the essence of genuine leadership communication in our attempt to control narratives?

Did you know…?

“Why hark back to ancient Rome for lessons in gravitas?” someone asked me recently.

Gravitas originated in ancient Greece. Rooted in the five canons of rhetoric explained by Roman Philosopher Cicero in De Inventione, gravitas encompasses invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery.

But just as importantly … Ancient Rome didn’t just build an empire; they built the blueprint of powerful communication. No microphones, no amplifiers, yet their orators could enthral thousands in the public square with their physical presence, gestures and voice.

The gestural finesse, the deliberate modulation of voice and their authoritative demeanour was practised and expected. They applied a studied approach to memory, engagement and influence.

Fast forward to today: In a digital era where attention is fragmented and we face information overload, these classical techniques are not just relevant—they’re revolutionary for the modern leader.

I believe that the wisdom of the ancient Romans is more relevant than ever. We must look back to move forward.

Stay tuned with more weekly email insights. Or connect with me on LinkedIn for daily tips to elevate your leadership presence.

Until next week – happy practising!

Louise Mahler

p.s. As the year begins to wind down, I had the joy of celebrating my birthday and the end of a remarkable year in Melbourne, surrounded by members of ‘My Claque.’ This gathering, which included individuals I’ve coached and those who’ve participated in retreats this year, was the ideal culmination of an unforgettable year. Curious about the ‘The Claque?’ Discover more here.

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About Me

Dr Louise Mahler is a body language expert. With a focus on study of the mind-body relationship and business applications; providing practical inspiring improvement to global leaders.

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