Thursday, 13 September 2007

The language of leadership

Sitting at my desk starring at the vast array of how to write compelling books in front of me I ask myself what exactly is the secret recipe?

An old student of mine Al Barrantine recently sent me his thesis on corporate social responsibility, his summation was brilliant, 'it should be renamed, just do the right thing'. It struck accord with me because so many terms and models exists to feed fat consultants whose role is to make small problems into huge projects, when all along the solution is simple 'just do the right thing' or in our case 'do what feels right for you'.

You can easily break down great speeches from the past and examine how they did it, the language and structure they used, but what is important is context, mis-interpret the audiences needs and you will fail every time.

I heard a funny story the other day from a BT engineer, who asked me what I did for a living; he quoted a presentation delivered by a senior BT manager to field engineers on the way forward. Sadly this senior manager had just returned from presentation bootcamp and proceeded to deliver what sounded like a Churchillian speech, rallying the troops into action in the face of great adversary. Sadly it failed miserably, the senior manager lost all credibility and quickly got moved to another division.

So the language of leadership, in a sentance, keep it simple, understand your audience, without followers you cant be a leader no matter how great your presentation is.