The Leadership Talk: The Greatest Leadership Tool (2)

You are sabotaging your career if you are giving presentations/speeches, not Leadership Talks. (Part 1 of 2 Parts)

By Brent Filson - 1/2007


Leaders speak 15 to 20 times and more a day. Those speaking situations shape their job performance and career paths.

The trouble is most leaders are caught in a trap. When speaking, they communicate with relatively ineffective methodologies, mainly presentations/speeches.

And it’s the worst of all traps because, in most cases, the leaders don’t know they’re in a trap -- and even if they do know, they don’t know how to get out.

To get out of the trap, leaders should be giving not presentations/speeches but Leadership Talks.

I’ve been developing the Leadership Talk methodologies since the mid-1980s when I was called in to help with the leadership communications challenges of General Electric executives.

Since then, I’ve brought the Leadership Talk processes to leaders of all ranks and functions in scores of top companies and non-profit organizations world wide.

In doing so, I’ve found Leadership Talks to be far superior in the results they accrue than presentations/speeches.

The Leadership Talk is a special methodology:

– richer than common persuasive-speaking methods in its capacity to generate relationships that have people choose to take extraordinary actions to achieve great results,

– broader in its applicability to all ranks of leaders and all organizational functions,

– deeper in its power to tap into the well springs of human motivation.

Furthermore, it’s been demonstrated by more than two decades of systematic, on-the-job applications that Leadership Talks achieve far more results -- hard measured results -- than other communication methods can achieve.

Finally, it’s not just a way of talking; it’s a way of leading, and, moreover, a way of life. For if you don’t make your leadership your life, you diminish both your leadership and life.

Last month, I described the Leadership Talk and how it can boost your clients’ job performance and promote advancement in their careers as no other single dynamic can.

In this issue, I will demonstrate how you yourself can develop and deliver Leadership Talks – And how you can teach your clients to do it.

Here’s the first step to take when developing a Leadership Talk.

(Read article)

If you plan to train people in giving a Leadership Talk, have them understand there are THREE QUESTIONS they should ask when they face a leadership situation needing their communication.

If they answer "no" to any one of those questions, they can’t give a Leadership Talk. They may be able to give a speech or presentation, but certainly not a Leadership Talk.


Here’s a key tip to know as a learning leader: Most leaders don’t get this. They think that their own needs, their organization’s needs, are reality. That’s okay if they’re into ordering. Order leaders need only work with their own reality. They simply have to tell people to get the job done. They don’t have to know where the people are coming from. But if leaders want to truly motivate the people, those leaders must work within the people’s reality.

But have your clients understand that the Leadership Talk is not about giving orders. It’s about getting people to be passionately committed to your leadership – and, spurred by that commitment, take ardent action to achieve great results. People will only be so committed when you work within THEIR reality, not just yours.

I call it "playing the game in the people’s home field". There is no other way to motivate them consistently. If leaders insist on playing the game on their own field, they’ll be disappointed in the motivational outcome.



Nobody wants to follow a leader who doesn’t believe the job can get done. If the leader can’t feel it, the people won’t do it.


So, the leader’s motivation isn’t the point. It’s simply a given. If the leader isn’t not motivated, they shouldn’t be a leader.

Here’s the point -- and it’s your great training opportunity: Can the leader TRANSFER their motivation to the people so they become as motivated as the leader is?


I call it THE MOTIVATIONAL TRANSFER, and it is one of the least understood and most important leadership determinants of all; and an absolute MUST for learning leaders to understand and teach.

There are three ways you can make the transfer happen.

--CONVEY INFORMATION. Often, this is enough to get people motivated. For instance, many people have quit smoking because of information on the harmful effects of the habit.

--MAKE SENSE. To be motivated, people must understand the rationality behind your challenge. Re: smoking: People have been motivated to quit because the information makes sense.

--TRANSMIT EXPERIENCE. This entails having the leader’s experience become the people’s experience. This can be the most effective method of all, for when the speaker’s experience becomes the audience’s experience, a deep sharing of emotions and ideas, a communing, can take place. Anecdotes, stories and defining moments are ways to help transmit experiences.


The ancient Greeks had a saying: "When Aschines speaks, the people say, 'How well he speaks,' but when Demosthenes speaks, the people say, 'Let's march against Philip!'".

To get the best results as a leader, the people you lead should be saying in one way or the other after you speak, "Let’s march!"

Results don’t happen unless people take action. After all, it’s not what you say that’s important in your leadership communications, it’s what the people do after you have had your say.

Yet the vast majority of leaders don’t have a clue as to what action truly is.

They get people taking the wrong action at the wrong time in the wrong way for the wrong results.

A key reason for this failure is they don’t know how to deliver the all-important "Leadership Talk Call-to-action".

"Call" comes from an Old English word meaning "to shout." A Call-to-Action is a "shout for action." Implicit in the concept is urgency and forcefulness. But most leaders don’t deliver the most effective Calls-to-action because they make three errors regarding it.

First, they err by mistaking the Call-to-Action as an order. Within the context of The Leadership Talk,The vast majority of leaders I’ve worked with are hampering their careers for one simple reason: They’re giving presentations and speeches -- not Leadership Talks.

You have a great opportunity to turbo charge the career of your clients by recognizing the power of Leadership Talks. Whenever your clients have a presentation/speech to give, tell them about the Leadership Talk and have them ask the three questions. Do you know what the audience needs? Can you bring deep belief to what you’re saying? Can you have the audience take the right action?

If they say "no" to any one of these questions, they cannot give a Leadership Talk. But the questions aren’t meant to be stumbling blocks to your training and their communication but stepping stones. If they answer "no", work on the questions with them until you can say, "yes". In that way, you’ll start having your clients get the right results in the right way on a consistent basis.

Here’s how you can bring the


1/2007© The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – Celebrating 25 years of helping leaders of top companies worldwide achieve outstanding results every day. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get his FREE report "7 Steps To Leadership Mastery"