Published by Geoff Kelly, Kelly Strategic Influence
Wisdom to lead minds:
“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the
2,000 year old wisdom guides today’s top leaders and communicators
Did you know that this is the most over-communicated and
over-informed society in history? Information is doubling every
three years. Human capacity to take in information is not.
The internet now has over a trillion (a million million) unique URLs
and is adding several billion pages a day. That makes it several
billion pages a day harder for leaders to get attention and buy-in
for their key strategies. Several billion pages a day harder to get
prospects to notice and buy their products and services. Several
billion pages a day harder to get traction with staff, suppliers,
Government, shareholders and community leaders.
So what’s that got to do with leaders winning hearts and minds?
People behave according to the way their world occurs to them.
Faced with the same circumstances, two people will buy differently,
vote differently, and act in every other way differently based on
how their world occurs to them.
Leadership implies followership – you can’t be a leader unless
someone follows you. To achieve this you must influence
(hopefully for their good and not for their disadvantage)
the way they see some part of their world and circumstances.
So to lead followers to action in any arena, leaders must first
get their attention, engage them in some way about their idea or
strategy, and convert them to commitment and action over time.
If you fail to get attention in today’s communication blizzard,
This is why corporate leaders struggle to gain the support they need.
They're losing sales, time and money, and often fail to connect with
the people who matter most to them.
One in three of the CEOs who leave the largest publicly traded
corporations in the world are fired for performance failures. Failing
to earn crucial support is a major factor in CEO performance failures.
This is why Government leaders struggle to achieve traction with the
community on key policies and regulation change. Political support is
more volatile, with election results routinely reporting major swings
in voting results. And leaders in Government bureaucracies are less
influential than ever before with their political masters.
For most leaders, gaining attention and converting support now costs
more money, takes more time and is less certain than at any time in
That is because they are poorly advised and doing what they see what
most others doing.
For example, the average corporate website has more than two
self-references a sentence. These are words that refer to the
organisation in some way, including its staff, products and
services, processes and words like I, we, our. Go to your next
cocktail party and talk about yourself as much as that. You'll
see a space open around you like Moses parting the Red Sea.
So why does common sense fail when we leave the cocktail party
and move into the world of communicating business and Government
to mass and niche audiences?
Leaders would do better to adopt the 2,000 year old wisdom of a
Roman statesman. Cicero said:”If you wish to persuade me, you
must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.”
At the time Cicero was the most influential thinker in the
most powerful civilization the world had known.
Who has the better chance of reframing the way someone sees
his world – the modern day leader with his or her average
self-centred web site and average self-centred communication
program? Or the ancient orator who knew enough to think, feel
and speak from the perspective of his target audience?
Cicero knew he had to immerse himself in seeing the world as
others saw it, so he could deeply understand what they really
thought and how they really felt. Once he understood how they
saw and felt about their world, he would craft his words and
argument to reframe their world view. And he would use the
language of his audience, because that was language that
As a highly educated Roman and a citizen of high rank,
Cicero could have used any form of sophisticated language
to express the most abstract concepts.
However, he chose to understand his audience and
communicate meaning and language that his audience would
understand and relate to.
Great leaders throughout history have known the importance
of winning hearts and minds to their cause. And they knew
the secrets of how to do that. As do the best leaders today.
So here is the surprising truth.
The most effective leaders communicate less and differently,
rather than louder with more of the same.
Less because they hit their target precisely.
Differently because they resonate with more meaning, with more
variety and with more credibility.
This is both a tragedy and an opportunity. Most leaders don’t
get it, and until they do their influence and achievement in
this world will be so much less than it might have been. The
tragedy is that so many great ideas and achievements will
die with them.
The opportunity is that it is all learnable. You can start
where you are and learn and develop high level skills and
achievements as a leader who can change your world by winning
the hearts and minds of others to your strategy or idea.
Anyone can do this, but few will. That is the unfair
advantage for the few who choose to be the change in
Decide now to take this journey. The steps are simple,
if not always easy. However the rewards that flow from
becoming a high-impact leader are life-long.
More next month...
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 - 2010 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.)