Published by Geoff Kelly, Kelly Strategic Influence
Wisdom to lead minds:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Maya Angelou, Poet
Leaders influence how the world occurs to their followers.
When France fell to Germany in 1940, the people of the United Kingdom
feared the worst for their own country. Analysts in Washington
predicted that the United Kingdom may only survive two weeks. And in
the United Kingdom itself, many feared an inevitable and irresistible
After all, the relatively small British Expeditionary Force that was
the core of its army had been defeated and then retreated leaving all
its heavy equipment on the beaches of Dunkirk. And the much larger
French armies had fallen rapidly before the German military’s
Blitzkrieg tactics, which had proven unstoppable wherever they had
However, Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not look to the recent
past or his nation’s relative weakness before its formidable foe
for his real world view. He looked to Britain’s potential to resist
using all its natural defences, plus the nation’s still capable navy
and air force.
In speeches that demonised Hitler as a monster, he also demonstrated
confidence that the island nation could be defended whatever the cost.
He even promised victory if they “never, never, never” gave in. And
history records that what at the time must have at first seemed
unreasonable to many, did come to pass. Churchill galvanised his
people to action, and action led to effective resistance and even
victories until Russia and the USA joined the war.
It was a dramatic example of how a leader can use vision and potential
to shape how the world occurs to people rather than allow them to hold
perceptions based on past history and current performance.
The greatest leaders throughout history right up to modern times have
always known this truth: individuals and groups always behave according
to how they see the world. And to change the way they behave, one must
change the way the world occurs to them in some way.
Now this is a completely objectionable view to most people, who
are locked-in to seeing reality in terms of past events and current
performance. So the student who has struggled with maths is likely
to see him or herself as destined to remain poor at maths. This
perception flows through to study habits, who they associate with
and challenges they are prepared to take. And it drives their
current and future performance.
This situation continues unless some external force knocks them
out of this cycle. For instance, a higher maths grade might become
mandatory for a career that they want even more than they fear
maths, and this new reality may push them to test what they
previously felt were impervious boundaries. Or an extraordinary
teacher might show them how they really have more maths ability
than they imagined.
Most ordinary leaders, and the communication and human resources
executives who support them, are conditioned to accept the current
reality model. They under-rate the potential of people and groups
to achieve the extraordinary, and they rely on core messages and
information tactics to move people to change.
Most often they fail because these messages and information packets
are received and interpreted from the context and mindsets of those
who receive them. And these are usually very different from those
who conceived these communications.
Of course being a Message Muppet - relying on forming and projecting
self-centred messages - is way easier to implement as you can do so
with little research and often almost no accountability. This is why
we see so many infantile “we”, “our”, “I”, and other self-referenced
messages carrying claims about meaningless abstractions that audiences
find easy to ignore. These efforts largely fail, but continue because
so few meaningfully measure and evaluate results.
True leaders want to effect real change and know that to impact how
people behave they must impact how people view their worlds. This
means they have to better understand how their targets currently
view their worlds, and use more effective communication and action
to shift them.
We’ll talk more about how in coming issues.
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@example.com or call +613 9678 9218 for more information
© 2009 Geoff Kelly All rights reserved.
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