Yesterday, Boris Johnson was on a triumphal march to the leadership of the UK.  Today, his career lies in ruins.  What happened?

Tragedy is “a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences” (from wikipedia).  The essence of Tragedy is that the hero’s greatest strength will end up being the source of his failure… usually just inches from victory.

Boris Johnson lived through a classic tragedy yesterday.

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Boris Johnson

UK politician, Boris Johnson is often described as a buffoon, even by his admirers.   His messy, bumbling, self-deprecating persona has long made him one of the best known politicians through his appearances on TV chat shows.  His greatest strength: a magnetic, charismatic character that allows him to engage all sides of the political spectrum.  

His downfall: he makes so many wonderful promises that there is no way he can keep them all.  His own lieutenant realises that he cannot trust Boris and stabs him in the back.

The Events of the Britannic Tragedy

Is this Game of Thrones?  No, it’s even more gruesome…

The British newspapers today are a better read than the final season 6, episode 10 Game of Thrones storyline (wow, how will Daenerys vs Cersei pan out?).  (Some newspaper headlines: “An Act of Midnight Treachery“, “Gove’s thunderbolt and Johnson’s breaking point“, “Farewell to Boris Johnson the great political wrecker of our generation“, “Gove and Johnson: what happened?” …)

Just 2 weeks ago…  It was all going so well for Boris.

Let’s go back 20 years and cover some history…

1999: Boris was made editor of Spectator magazine, promising Conrad Black, the owner, that he would never enter politics.

Boris enters politics.

2008: Boris was given a leadership role in the conservative party, promising he would not run for London mayor against the central party candidate Nick Boles.

He runs for London mayor.

2016: Boris takes a tactical decision to lead the Brexit campaign in the referendum, giving a plausible front face to a campaign previously made up of bigots and angry white men.  He promises everything to everybody.

Michael Gove promises to support Boris Johnson’s run for leadership.

Boris promises jobs to everyone who supports him.

Michael Gove discovers that 300 people have been promised leading roles in a Boris Johnson leadership team.  There are not 300 leadership roles.  Gove wants some clarity on his future role in the Boris Johnson team.  Boris equivocates…

The morning of Boris Johnson’s accession to the throne of conservative party leadership, Gove turns on him and says he cannot be trusted to lead.

The Danger of the Charismatic Leader

Narcissism is “the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.” (from wikipedia)

The narcissistic leader is missing any internal compass that guides their action.  They are oriented to personal power.  All decisions are short term opportunistic decisions based on the net increase in power.

It is addictive to follow a narcissistic leader.  They know how to make you feel great when they need you.  They know the words you most want to hear.  They know the promises you want them to make.  They make everything seem clear and simple.

Bonus Quiz: Can you spot any narcissistic leader candidates around the world?  I’m writing a long post called “The Global Rise of Populist Politicians: Why Now?” that will be published here in the next week.

How to Spot a Liar

The charismatic leader does not intend to lie.  In the moment that they make the promise they really mean to keep it.  The problem is that they mean the promise because they see it pleases you.  The moment someone else is with them, they will make a promise that pleases them.  They will accumulate promise after promise, pleasing person after person… until they have made so many promises that they have to break some of them.

Be careful of people pleasers.  They are better at pleasing people than at staying the course on a long and challenging voyage.

Be Careful of Simple Answers

The world is not clear and simple.  The problems of the world are complex and connected.  No simple solution will give us back the imagined great past that has been taken away from us.  It is not the immigrants who have made anyone poorer, it is that you cannot do the same work for the same rewards forever.

We must be wary of simple answers to complex, global problems.  We must be wary of charismatic personalities that are willing to say whatever is needed to be said in order to gain power.

The only proof of future performance is past performance.  How has this person behaved in the past.  Words are cheap.  Only actions show the true colours of a person.

Be careful of words.

Look at actions.

The Future is Not So Bad for the Tories

While the future is pretty bleak for the individuals, this tragedy has brought the Tory party together.

After all of the leadership bloodletting we now have 5 candidates who espouse the same 3 priorities for the future:  Brexit + Social Justice + Capitalism.

Maybe it takes an individual tragedy to bring an organisation together?

 

 

There is a power tool in negotiation.  I would say this is the single most useful tactic that I use in my years of selling (I sell private jets among other high value products).

It is not competitive, it is not aggressive, it is not avoiding anything.

It does not require massive intellectual development, years of training or genetic gifts.

It requires no study, no poetic ability nor any magical secret ingredients.

It is …

 

Silence.

Silence.

Me: “What is your best price?”

Supplier: “Blah, blah [Product feature #2], blah… I can offer you €100”

Me: “Hmmm.” and wait…  10…  20 seconds…  (tension increasing)

Supplier: “Ok, I can give you €90…  but that is our best price”

Me:  “Hmmm.”  and wait…  10… 20 seconds… (tension increasing)

… and on…

Photo Credit: John of Dublin via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: John of Dublin via Compfight cc

70% of organisation change efforts fail.

John Kotter has an 8 step process that can reduce the likelihood that your project of organisational change (and all leadership projects mean some form of change the the existing status quo).

A big source of failure is starting action before you have put together a solid base of support and understanding before acting.

The 8-Step Process for Leading Change

  1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency – Help others see the need for change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.
  2. Creating the Guiding Coalition – Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort, and encourage the group to work as a team.
  3. Developing a Change Vision – Create a vision to help direct the change effort, and develop strategies for achieving that vision.
  4. Communicating the Vision for Buy-in – Make sure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
  5. Empowering Broad-based Action – Remove obstacles to change, change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision, and encourage risk-taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.
  6. Generating Short-term Wins – Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.
  7. Never Letting Up – Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision, also hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision, and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.
  8. Incorporating Changes into the Culture – Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

There is an excellent resource that goes into more detail for each stage at John Kotter’s website.

I just watched Thomas Hyunh speak about his lifetime obsession with Sun-Tzu, the 2,500 year old Chinese General, at Authors@Google (video at the bottom of this post).   Sun-Tzu was only 30 years old when he led the smallest region of China to victory over the largest region.  This victory made him famous, and made his book “The Art of War” into the widely read book that it has become.

What makes Sun-Tzu’s Art of War relevant to us today?  Conflict is part of our lives.  Personal relations, company market share battles, political struggle – how can we approach these challenges in an effective manner?

Whether it is military conflict or politics within an organisation, Sun-Tzu’s guidelines are relevant.

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Photo from Wikimedia

Sun-Tzu In a Nutshell

  1. Control yourself.  Thus you can influence others.
  2. Adapt to your environment.  It accentuates your strengths and ameliorates your weakness.
  3. Never sell out your principles. “The general who does not advance to seek glory or does not withdraw to avoid punishment, but cares for only the people’s security and promotes the people’s interest is the nation’s treasure”

“Before doing battle, in the temple one calculates and will win” Sun-Tzu

#1 Principle: Control Yourself

Number 1 is Control Yourself.  Sun-Tzu is very deliberate about his guidelines of separating out Ego and Emotion from decision making.   Thomas quotes him in his talk “Before doing battle, in the temple one calculates and will win” – take decisions away from field of combat.  As in combat, so in life.  Life decisions taken under high emotion or driven by ego desire are dangerous.  They need reflection in the light of a meditative peaceful pose.

“Those angry will be happy again, and those wrathful will be cheerful again, but a destroyed nation cannot be brought back to life” Sun-Tzu.   Strong emotions will go away, but actions can never be undone.   Battle that is driven by revenge, by anger, by frustration is not good battle.  Personal conflict that is driven by anger, revenge is not good for either party.

The 5 attributes of a Great General (Leader)

Sun-Tzu
Sun-Tzu
  • Wisdom
  • Credibility
  • Benevolence
  • Courage
  • Discipline

The 5 Factors for Victory

  • Way – Your personal connection to other people
  • Heaven – Environment outside your control
  • Ground – Environment under your control
  • General – Ability and Attitude
  • Law – Discipline and Commitment

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osQ2bLUd0UA&list=TLp3MFP1RQA6E

I was watching the UK version of the TV show “The Apprentice” a few months ago.  This particular week’s challenge was to sell caravan and camping equipment at a trade show.

Early on, there was a key decision to make: Which model of caravan would the team try to sell?

Now, this was a trade show where the typical attendee was 60 years old and the teams had this information.  This was not a show directed to young people, nor was it an audience that would be represented by the word “innovative”.  This was people looking for solid, reliable caravans.

The contestants on BBC's The Apprentice show
The contestants on BBC’s The Apprentice show

The team lead, lets call him Joe, asked for advice from one of his team members, who I will call Tom.  Now, Joe has already agreed with the rest of the team that they should choose a proven, well-priced model…

Joe: “So, Tom, what do you think? Should we go for the hip, modern campervan or the older, proven model?”

Tom: “I think we should go for the modern one.”  (I am surprised at this advice)

Joe: “Really?  I like it a lot more…  but… are you sure it is right for this market?”

Tom: “I think we can manage it.”

Joe: “Right, ok…  I’ll go with your advice.”

Skip forward to the end of the week…  Joe is in the boardroom defending why his team did so incredibly poorly.  It was clearly because he chose a caravan that would be impossible to sell to the actual audience of the trade show.

Tom was playing the game supremely.  He was being friendly to Joe and acting the part of a loyal team member, whilst really setting Joe up for a fall.

We see the Manipulators for what they are

In real life this happens all the time, but it is very hard to see – because the manipulators like Tom are very good at the act, and we only see how they deal with us.  We don’t see or hear what they are saying to others behind our backs.

Modern western society forces a dilemma onto its citizens: How do I maintain a good balance between good, long-term, trusting relationships and individual achievement.  The achievement often has to come by me winning and another person losing.

Machiavelli first put down the principles of individual achievement over trusted relationships back in 1500s in his book The Prince.

TV Series such as The Apprentice, Survivor and Big Brother are exquisitely designed and edited to open a clear window for the viewers into the scheming, manipulative words and actions of the competitors.  They can often go for weeks believing that Tom is a wonderful friend in the house, whilst the audience has known for weeks that Tom is playing the true friend to several others and manipulating the whole house.

It is addictive watching.

I think it is addictive, because deep down we all know the game.

I had an opportunity to give a talk at TEDx University of Navarra in April this year.  The talk has just made its way up to YouTube.

Now over 500K views of this talk

November 2017

If you had 1000€ and you could invest that money in someone’s future, who would you bet on? Is it yourself?

Here is a wonderful 1 page summary of the TEDx talk from @in.sight.out

tedx-who-would-you-bet-on-visual

Social Media

Thanks to Sara Navarro Cuesta for being the first to share: Thanks to IESE Business School for a widely-read tweet

Transcript

Who would you bet on?

Imagine you had the two hundred people you know best in the world sat in this room and i gave you this deal:

you come, today, come up here to me, you give me a thousand euros and you give me a name, and for the rest of that person’s life I will pay you ten percent of everything they make, every month, month after month, month after month.

Ten percent.

Who would you choose?

Imagine that. Here in the room, if you look around the faces you see in this room -some good faces to bet on in this room- but if you put the two hundred people you know best from school, from university, through family connections,… Who of all the people you know, will be the one person that you would put on my paper and bring to me? Who would you bet on? I was asked this question seven years ago. The man in the picture is Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, at times the richest man in the world.

Warren Buffett doesn’t invent things;

Warren Buffett doesn’t sell things;

Warren Buffett doesn’t manage a company.

Warren Buffet takes one decision every day:

Would I bet on this person?

And the results would seem that he does this quite well. But seven years ago when he asked this question to a hundred and fifty MBAs. In my mind, three or four faces came to my mind…

Three or four faces…

And I hope as you’re thinking about this now

-Who would you bet on?- Some faces come to your mind. Some faces come to mind. People you know,

if you have this bet to make you choose them.

So let’s work a little bit on this.

If we’re gonna do this properly which we put together a process.

The question:

What criteria will you use in making this decision?

What criteria is your mind already using when it puts up a couple of faces in your mind’s eye?

What are you looking for when you see in someone the capacity have a massive impact in the world? I’m assuming you wanna do this bet well, because you do it well you can use that money for a lot of good causes.

What criteria would you use?

One idea -let’s go through some ideas- one idea: let’s get the two hundred people present in the room to bring their grades from school and university and we put them in order from the best to the worst grade and we choose number one.

Good idea?

The really scary thing is if I asked a group of twelve-year-olds they would laugh at the idea. Twelve-year-old already see the grades in school is not the criteria.

What are the criteria we’re using?

What about best friends? Patxi, I’ll choose you if you choose me! Best friends! Wonderful for friendship but a very dumb-way to take this decision.

What criteria would you use?

What criteria is your mind already using when it starts to put some ideas in your mind?

Who would you bet on?

So if grades from school isn’t it; best friends isn’t it; What would you use?

Now Warren Buffett takes this decision everyday, and Warren Buffett has three criteria.

But before I get into these three criteria of Warren Buffett

I wanna move to the world of psychology -I studied psychology- and to this day, from the beginning of psychology, there’s one test that above any other tests in life predicts future success on every measure: wealth, quality of relationships, grades in school, length of relationships, happiness, measured on every scale wether qualitated or quantitated

And the test is called the Marshmallow Test.

This here is a marshmallow.

The marshmallow test can be conducted on children three or four years old: the psychologist brings the child into the room and says “this is yours, this is yours to eat. I need to leave the room for a couple of minutes, when I come back if it’s still there you get two”.

And the psychologist leaves the room.

And the kid looks at the marshmallow: its his marshmallow! you can use it in any way you want.

So fifty percent eat the marshmallow; fifty percent don’t eat the marshmallow.

And the fifty percent that don’t eat the marshmallow go on to live lives that are qualitative and quantitatively better than the kids that do eat the marshmallow.

But you can go and look at this on Youtube.

You can go and see this experiment being carried out. And what is most illustrative is what the children do that don’t eat the marshmallow.

The kids that eat the marshmallow do something similar:

they stare at the marshmallow, they look at it.

The kids that don’t eat the marshmallow -can you imagine three-year-olds, four-year-olds? it’s kind of obvious- the kids that don’t eat the marshmallow: they put their head on their hands, they get up and stare at the wall, they look at their shoes.

Because at the age of three they’ve already realized how little power they have over themselves, over their own nature.

The lesson:

the diet fails in the supermarket, not at home. If I go to the supermarket and I buy chocolate, and that chocolate gets to my house, my willpower might get me through one day, it might be getting through the end of the week, it might get me to the end of the month, I might last a year…

But one day something bad will happen: I’ll come home tired my willpower will not be there and I will eat that chocolate.

The marshmallow test: the most powerful tool, on three or four-year-old children, to determine the quality of their lives the rest of their life.

Now, marshmallows don’t work on grown adults, so I wouldn’t recommend we use the marshmallow test to make your decision of who’d you bet on.

Let’s go back to Warren Buffett and his three criteria:

the three criteria of Warren Buffett.

And Warren Buffett makes this decision pretty damn well: sixty billion dollars of Net worth through deciding “would I bet on this person or not?”. And if you look at the structure of a lot of his deals he takes ten percent of all the future income of this person, of this team, of this company, on these three criteria.

The second criteria of Warren Buffett:

Energy.

Energy is health and a bias to action:

healthy people, people who don’t get ill often, people when they get a cold there back to work tomorrow cuz they recover quick, they sleep well.

Bias to action: people have a tendency to take action over thinking about action.

Energy is about vitality and a bias to action.

The third criteria of Warren Buffett:

Intelligence.

But not chess intelligence, not business school intelligence, not sitting in a room for four years designing a strategy intelligence.

He’s talking about adaptive intelligence: when you’re running down the street and a lamp post is coming towards you, adaptive intelligence is the intelligence to see the pattern, see the lamp post coming and change your course just enough but instead of taking it in the forehead you take the blow on the shoulder and you keep moving.

So number two: energy.

Number three: intelligence.

But without number one Warren Buffett and I would rather you were dumb and lazy.

Without number one you’ll be a danger to yourself.

Without number one you’ll be danger to your family and to society.

Number one, Warren Buffett’s number one criteria…

Number two is energy. Number three, intelligence. But without this those two are dangerous.

Number one is integrity.

But integrity is that you say no to most things.

Integrity is really about an alignment between what your calendar says you do and what you say you. And if you say yes to most requests, if you can’t think of the time you said no in the last day, in the last week, your life has been divided into thousands of little pieces and spread amongst the priorities of other people.

So to live an integral life, to live a life true to your own values means that you say no very often.

Integrity, energy and intelligence.

Do they seem like good criteria?

Do they seem like good criteria?

They worked for Warren Buffett… They seem like good criteria?

Did you use these criteria in taking this decision? in choosing the one person to own ten percent of all their future income?

These three seem like good criteria for me, I use them, I often use them.

They seem like good criteria. Now, there’s a person in this room that without paying me a thousand Euros, without doing anything different, without raising your hand, without moving, you owe more than ten percent: you own one hundred percent.

The person in this room that you don’t have to pay money, you don’t have to go to me, you don’t have to speak to anyone, and you will own one hundred percent of everything, month after month, after month.

So I very much hope that you each day work very hard to maximize integrity, maximize energy maximize intelligence.

Because if you bet on someone else for ten percent, I damn well hope, you put everything you can into maximizing these three in your own life.

And given that we got a few minutes, How about some tools?

I’ll leave you with some tools: one tool to maximize your intelligence, one tool to maximize your energy, one tool to maximize your integrity. And you can put these into action right now.

Intelligence: write stuff down.

If you write down ideas you’ve had today, if you write down people you’ve met, describe things that are going on, six months from now you won’t be the intelligence of one moment: you’ll be the accumulated intelligence of six months of ideas, six months of things written down, six months of people’s quotes.

When I was fourteen years old my biology teacher made us write down five minutes everyday, whatever we wanted. I remember day one. Pen touched paper: “This is stupid, What are we doing?”

Day two, again: “This is stupid. What are we doing?” Day three: “He’s still doing this!”

Day four: “Strange thing happened to me on the way to school today…”.

Day five: “My brother said something to me this morning…”.

I’ve written everyday of my life since I was fourteen years old. I know where I was every day of my life since I was fourteen: I know what I was thinking, I know what I felt like, I know who I was with.

Start writing down your life, it’s the most valuable resource you have: your own life. But so few people take the time to document it. Write your life down, describe the marshmallow.

Energy: high-performance athletes. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last five years interviewing the high-performance athletes of Spain: Josef Ajram, Kilian Jornet, Miquel Suñer.

Josef Ajram: ten times he’s competed in the Marathon des Sables. Two marathons a day, six days across the Sahara.

And Josef tells me: he finishes because he never thinks about more than fifteen minutes ahead. He runs for fifteen minutes he stops, has a drink, another fifteen minutes, another fifteen minutes, his mind never goes beyond fifteen minutes.

He says “anybody can run for fifteen minutes”.

He’s run the Marathon des Sables because he’s never, ever, let his mind see more than the next fifteen minutes.

Miquel Suñer swims open water, without a wetsuit, across the english channel. No wetsuit! Forty two thousand strokes to leave the english coast over to france.

Fourteen, fifteen-degree water; the cold seeping in with every stroke. How does he do it?

Because his mind is never further than stroke, stroke, breath; stroke, stroke, breath. Hour after hour, swimming, but he’s never allowing is mind to go anywhere beyond: stroke, stroke, breath.

With the marshmallow: deal with one marshmallow at a time, one marshmallow at a time.

What’s the next step? Do not let your mind jump forward and see the biggest thing. Alpine climbers see the next inch.

Ranulf Fiennes, oldest man from europe to climb Everest: failed three times; on his last attempt his wife said “Ranulf, climb it like the horses”.

He looked at her: “What you mean like the horses?”.

She’s an animal trainer: “A horse has no concept of the finish, a horse runs until it collapses. Climb everest one step at a time. Ask yourself one question: “can I take one more step?” “Yes!” take it. “No!” pause. “Yes!” take it, “Yes!” take it.

And on one of those steps he stood on the summit.

Energy: deal with next unit, one marshmallow at a time, one marshmallow at a time.

Integrity: Do you know how a child spells love?

How does a child spell love?

T-I-M-E

This world is full of good intention… But, the way you see if an executive really is behind an initiative you open their diary and you count the hours.

If you say your parents are important to you, open the diary and show me the hours.

The coherence between a diary and your values is where integrity begins.

And it’s kind of horrific when you start to count, when you start to look and start to become aware of where your time goes… So little of my time really goes to the things that I know and I mean to do. So often I slip off into facebook and what was supposed to be a minute, is an hour, and then lunch comes.

But those minutes, once you start to get the minutes dedicated things that matter…

And the truly important thing to remember about the marshmallow test is that there’s hundreds, and thousands, and millions of marshmallows in your life: hundreds of little decisions, minutes after minute, day after day that all sum up.

And success in life is not one massive good decision, not one marshmallow not eaten;

and failure, is not one marshmallow eaten, or one poor decision.

Failure is repeated bad decisions;

success, is repeated, consistent, good habits.

We so underestimate what we can achieve in a year and so overestimate what we can achieve in a day. A page a day and you have a book in a year: you’ll never write a book in one day.

But this time, once you started dedicate the time right, I had the privilege is spending a day with Kilian Jornet -probably Spain’s top athlete, ultra man- when I met him he just finished running the Lake Tahoe Rim Run: 288 kilometers, 19 kilometers of vertical ascent and he run it in 36 hours.

What the hell goes through a man’s mind as he runs for 36 hours?

But when he runs, do you know what the other competitors say about Kilian?

“He looks like he’s enjoying it”.

The other runners are suffering and they’re looking down:

Killian is running touching the leaves as he runs past, smelling the smell of the forest, feeling at the end of the track beneath his feet.

He runs for thirty six hours because he’s absolutely there, his mind is nowhere else but in the run, in the path, in the forests, feeling completely alive.

But when you do get your diary too much up to your values, getting your life one hundred percent present, and experiencing every little piece,is what took Killian to be #1 in the world in the hardest sport in the world.

So the lesson, rule #1 for success -and I brought a few for all of you to see if you can achieve it- the rule for success: when you have a marshmallow don’t stare at it.

The diet doesn’t fail because of weakness of will, the diet fails because the chocolate is there.

If you want to stop watching television take the batteries out of the remote.

If you want to do more exercise, put your running shoes next to the door.

It’s small, small changes…

And when I come back five years from now, and I ask: “Who did you bet on?

the answer that I want:

Yo mismo! (Spanish for myself)

When I come back ten years from now, the answer that I want is “Yo mismo!”

And twenty years from now, I want you to have written stuff down;

I want you have dealt with one step at a time;

I want you to make sure your diary aligns completely, you say “no” to the things that don’t fit with what’s important to you.

And twenty five years when I come back here I will look out on the most successful group of people, because they’ve lives their lives fully.

Who would you bet on?

How to Give a Killer Presentation

Chris Anderson, Owner of TED
Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.  Read More

 

The Inconvienient Truth about Change Management –

McKinsey & Company
Conventional change management approaches have done little to change the fact that most change  programs fail. The odds can be greatly improved by a number of counterintuitive insights that take into account the irrational but predictable nature of how employees interpret their environment and choose to act.  Read More

 

11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader

Dave Kerpen
All 11 concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Read More

 

5 Models for Leading Change

Tristan Wember
In this article we introduce five models for leading change. No single model isright. However, they all have something valuable on offer and can help us to navigate our way through complex organisational situations or circumstances.  Read More

The Visionary Leader

In times of crisis, we prefer Visionary Leaders. Hope is a strong motivator to current action when the situation is difficult.

In the years leading up to 2008, the USA was stuck in two protracted wars, and an economic crisis sparked by the subprime lending collapse. In this context of uncertainty, the big factor that helped to sweep Barrack Obama into the Presidency was that he was seen as an inspiring and visionary leader. His message gave hope for a better future to come.

The Ethos-Based Speech model uses the force of the leader’s personal and professional credibility combined with hope to move an audience to take action. It is a vital tool for effective leaders when facing times of uncertainty and crisis.

Likewise, Ronald Reagan came to power in a time of uncertainty.  He was a powerful visionary speaker.  His speech after the Challenger space shuttle disaster was a very clear Ethos-Based speech structure and delivery.

Example Ethos-Based Speech: Ronald Reagan’s Challenger address

The Ethos-Based Speech

The Ethos-Based Speech follows this simple structure:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 17.51.46

Past

Starts with a moment in time “4 years ago” or “When we founded this company” or “70 years ago”. Past describes a situation where things were “good”. Past sets a common context. Ronald Reagan’s speech after the Challenger space shuttle disaster begins with a story about what happened 400 years ago – the founding of the USA. This creates a common context and connection for his audience.

Present

Describes today’s reality. Often this is a negative in contrast with the Past. There are challenges. Not everything is rosy. However, the audience needs to see that the leader lives in their world, sees what they see. This clear seeing of today’s real situation establishes credibility. Ronald Reagan’s Challenger speech tells of what he and his wife Nancy saw on TV that morning, how they felt and what it meant. He then speaks to the children, then to the teachers, then to the families of the dead astronauts. He is direct and clear about the real situation and the feelings.

Future

Imagines a better situation in future. “5 years from now, I see a company that is strong…” Outlines what the hard work we need to day will achieve. Connects todays difficulty with a purpose.

I made a short video last week to explain some of the advanced modules we run in IESE for Persuasive Communication skills.

This video explains the IESE Visionary Communication Module

Original Post

Fascinating? Photo Credit: Angel~Lily

When I step on stage to speak, I get 8 seconds before the listener decides how to categorize me:

  1. worth attention, or
  2. time to check my mobile email

What are your first words?

When I meet someone at a conference, a party, an event…  again – we have 8 seconds.  Catch attention, or the other person is starting to scan the room for a more interesting conversation partner and beginning to plan her escape: “oh I must get a new drink”, “Is the toilet over there?”, “Oh I must say hello to Anna”…

In those 8 seconds, your whole life is judged on the power of your first words.  What are they?  There are 7 billion humans…  how do you stand out as different?  (you are different… but how to sum up a whole life in several words?)…

So often a speaker begins with:

  • “Hi”
  • “Good morning”
  • “What’s up?”

How does that help differentiate from 3 billion?

In-different = Boring

What does stop us for a moment?  What delays the escape routine of the listener?

There are 7 triggers of fascination.  Brands, people, even you use these triggers every day.  You have one that is your “primary” trigger.  What is your “primary” trigger?

  1. Power – Take command of the environment
  2. Pasion – Attract with emotion, irrational, irresistible charm
  3. Mystique – Arousing curiosity
  4. Prestige – Increase respect, aspiration
  5. Alarm – Driving urgency
  6. Vice – Creativity, Deviation from the norm, See things differently
  7. Trust – Connection through consistency and predictability

Sally Hogshead explains the 7 triggers in her TEDx talk:

What do you think?

7 Challenges of Weak Communciators

These are 7 challenges that can be overcome if you take the time to improve your communication skills.  Some have very quick fixes, others require considerable practice to turn into strengths.
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  1. I lose people’s attention easily
  2. People agree, but then do nothing
  3. People avoid my phone calls (… at least I think so!)
  4. People avoid giving me feedback (or only “sugarcoated”)
  5. I have difficulty listening to others
  6. People never agree with me
  7. People “hijack” my meetings, my presentations, my conversation

Resources

What are your Communications Challenges?