The Leadership Talk: The Greatest Leadership Tool

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

By Brent Filson - 12/2006

The vast majority of leaders are sabotaging their careers for one simple reason: they’re giving presentations/speeches -- not the far more effective Leadership Talks.

It’s their big problem; but it’s your great opportunity as a learning leader -- once you learn how to give Leadership Talks and teach others how to give them.

For the Leadership Talk propels leaders into a new dimension of communication vitality and leadership effectiveness.

The Talk isn’t a style of communication but a practical, results-reaping tool that can boost the job performance of each of your clients and hot-rod their careers.

Furthermore, an organization saturated with leaders of all ranks and functions continually giving Leadership Talks is far more productive, efficient, and competitive than comparative organizations lacking leaders who give Talks.

I’ve been developing the Leadership Talk methodologies and teaching them to leaders in top companies worldwide for more than two decades. Here’s a primer on the Leadership Talk and how you can help your clients trash their presentations/speeches and start giving Leadership Talks.

The Leadership Talk as a gift

The Leadership Talk is both immediately and long-lastingly effective so that when you impart it to others, it takes on the qualities of a special gift.

Give your clients the gift of the Leadership Talk and they become gifted leaders.

Give your clients the gift of the Leadership Talk, and you’ll show them how instead of sabotaging their careers they’ll be able to boost their job performance and careers in notable ways many times daily, day in and day out.

Give your clients the gift of the Leadership Talk, and you become their true results-partner -- without added time and commitment on your part.

Give your clients the gift of the Leadership Talk, and you’ll see them making notable contributions to the results-generating activities of their teams and your organization.

What’s a Leadership Talk?

You understand it first by understanding the Hierarchy Of Verbal Persuasion. At the bottom levels of the Hierarchy, the least effective means of verbal persuasion, are presentations/speeches. They’re ways of communicating information. However, the highest level, the most effective way, is the Leadership Talk.

The Leadership Talk not only communicates information. It does something much more important: It establishes deep, human, emotional connections with the audience to motivate them to take action to achieve great results.

Hot air and moonbeams

One might say that such connections are more about hot air and moonbeams than the achieving of hard, measured results. However, my experience teaches that those profoundly human connections are the very tap roots of great results. In fact, leaders who are not establishing those connections are themselves living in a dream world, dreaming that the manipulation of technical things and the communication of information alone are sufficient to achieve the results they’re after.

Technical manipulation and information communication may be sufficient to get average results, but to achieve great results, to achieve more results faster on a continual basis, leaders must come to grips with the opportunities brimming in the deep psychological and emotional realms.

You know of leaders who can tap into those opportunities. But I suspect those leaders usually don’t know they are doing it; or if they do know, don’t know precisely how they’re doing it; or if they are aware of how they’re doing it, can’t teach others to do it. Morever, they can’t make such connections shape the culture of their organization.

Look at it this way: Leaders do nothing more important than get results. There are generally two ways that leaders get results: They can order people to go from point A to point B; or they can have people WANT TO go from A to B.

Clearly, leaders who can instill "want to" in people, who motivate those people, are much more effective than leaders who can’t or won’t.

And the best way to instill "want to" is not simply to relate to people as if they are information receptacles but to engage them in deep, human, emotional ways.

Leadership Talks develop and cement those results-achieving relationships.

Examples of Leadership Talks.

When Churchill said, "We will fight on the beaches ... " That was a Leadership Talk.

When Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you ... " that was a Leadership Talk.

When Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" That was a Leadership Talk.

Of course, Churchill, Kennedy, Reagan and others who were masters at giving Leadership Talks didn’t actually call their communications "Leadership Talks", but they must have been conscious to some degree of the processes needed in putting Leadership Talks together.

These examples point to the effectiveness of the Leadership Talk on a macro-scale. However, the notable and lasting impact of the Leadership Talk is manifested not with Churchill’s and Kennedy’s and Reagan’s on a world stage but with the people you interact with in your daily life.

The REAL importance of Leadership Talks

Whether you know it or not, you have lived your life awash in Leadership Talks. Go back to those moments when the words of someone (not necessarily a leader) inspired you to take ardent action, and you’ve probably identified an authentic Leadership Talk.

In the realm of leadership, it’s clear how the Leadership Talk can change people’s jobs and careers. For example, leaders speak 15 to 20 times a day -- everything from formal speeches to informal chats. When they use Leadership Talks in those situations, when they use those situations to connect with in dynamic ways, they dramatically increase the effectiveness of their leadership.

The double-edged sword

The Leadership Talk is propelled by processes that are simple, practical, repeatable, and teachable. The processes can be tailored to your unique leadership and organizational competencies.

Furthermore, the Leadership Talk is a double-edged sword: both you and your clients can wield it.

First, you can use it yourself. Your job probably necessitates your not only communicating well but motivating extensively -- colleagues, clients, and bosses.

Clearly, most of the people whom you need to have run with your ideas don’t report to you. However, you must not only get them to say and do what you want – but more importantly, you must have them "want to" say and do what you want. That’s where the Leadership Talk comes in.

Leadership Talks will help you get people ardently committed to your cause in the matrix environment where in order to get things done, you must motivate people, not give them mandates.

Second, you can bring the Leadership Talk methodologies to your clients for them to use.

The Leadership Talk and learning leadership

Only you as a learning leader are in a position to lead the charge for the Leadership Talk in your organization.