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August 2013
Published by Geoff Kelly, Kelly Strategic Influence

Wisdom to lead minds:

"You can have brilliant ideas, but if you canít get them across, your ideas wonít get you anywhere."

Lee Iacocca, former Chairman, Chrysler Corporation

Who is following your ideas?

Have you ever wondered why there is no commonly accepted definition of leadership? We all know itís important, yet we canít agree on what it is.

Sure, we know leadership when we see it. And perhaps that is enough. So a good practice for leaders and aspiring leaders is to play spot the leader in the world around them, and reflect on why this person or that one picks themselves out of the crowd.

Of course, the only sure test of leaders is that they have followers. So you may have the title Chief Executive in a large corporation, or Sergeant of an army combat patrol, but if people donít follow then you are not leading. You are just occupying a slot in the human resources managerís hierarchy chart.

Letís do a brief self-test. Only you will see your answers, so be honest with yourself. Leave self-delusion to your competitors:

  • When you introduce a colleague guest speaker, do you simply read their resume?
  • When you present awards to staff members, do you parrot the same trite rubbish you hear most others say?
  • Did your last strategy presentation merely inform your audience, or did they get excited enough to do something?
  • *When asked to speak briefly, and on occasion to speak more fully, do you normally regard it as a burden, or a chance to make an impact?

The answers to these questions define where you are on your leadership path right now. They donít bind your potential, they just show you where you are on your journey.

The difference between managing and leading is the language leaders use. Sure both managers and leaders communicate, but only leaders use the language of leadership. And that language is the product of good private thinking tempered with the counsel of others.

As the great Roman Senator and orator Cato said, the secret is to: ďFind the message first and the words will follow.Ē

So your first step after reflecting on your leadership challenge and seeking counsel is to write in a single sentence the idea you want others to follow. Reflect on it, say it, edit it and test it until you are happy. But keep it to one sentence, because that is your best chance that others will take away what you want them to take away.

Winston Churchill was one of historyís greatest masters of leadership language, and he was one of its greatest leaders. As you continue to develop your mastery of this crucial skill, reflect on his simple but powerful formula:

  1. Begin with a zinger
  2. Stick to one theme
  3. Keep your words short and sweet
  4. Paint a picture 5. End with emotion

Re-read or listen to some of Churchillís major speeches and see how he brings his ideas to life, and consider how you can adapt his approach to your own leadership challenges.

For example, what zinger did he use in his first speech to the House of Commons as Prime Minister? It was ďI have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.Ē Now youíd have been riveted to see where he was going with that, wouldnít you?

And the records show that the MPs were indeed captured by his rhetoric.

There is nothing more important to a leader than looking and talking like a leader, and who can get others to follow their ideas. People with better skills and experience always come second to those who form and express ideas that others follow. Leaders can hire the other stuff because it simply isnít as important. That has been the case throughout history, and is just as true today.

More soon...


Geoff Kelly works with leaders who are frustrated that others don't fully support their ideas and strategies. He mainly works with corporate leaders around the world, but also leaders in Government and Not for Profit. He is also a popular speaker on this and related subjects. See www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au, email [email protected] or call +613 9678 9218 for more information


© 2009 - 2013 Geoff Kelly All rights reserved.
You are free to use material from the Leading Minds eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read: "By Geoff Kelly of Kelly Strategic Influence. Please visit Geoff's web site at www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au for additional articles and resources on earning support for your ideas and strategies." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)



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