Vol. 1 Number 6 - December, 2003.
Publisher: The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.


IN THIS ISSUE: The “The Leadership Talk”, The Most Powerful Leadership Tool You’ll Ever Use.

SECTION 1: Brent Filson’s Weekly Tips To Lead By.

Week 1: The Leadership Talk: The Most Powerful Leadership Tool You’ll Ever Use.

Week 2: Developing The Leadership Talk: Needs.

Week 3: Developing The Leadership Talk: Belief.

Week 4: Developing The Leadership Talk: Action.

SECTION 2: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

SECTION 3: Guest Report

SECTION 4: Points of Light.

SECTION 5: News.
SECTION 1: Brent Filson’s Tips To Lead By
(Apply these tips week by week throughout the month.)

Week 1: The Leadership Talk, The Most Powerful Leadership Tool You’ll Ever Use.
The Leadership Talk: It’s new. It’s powerful. And you’ll find it’s indispensable to your leadership. I’m going to show you what it is and a few tips on using it. But first, let’s understand this important point: If leaders don’t measure up, it’s often because they act under the wrong premises. Here are two golden leadership premises that drive The Leadership Talk.

Premise one. Leadership is about one thing only, getting results, however you define and measure them. If you’re not getting results, you’re not a leader, or you won’t be a leader for long. Leadership is not a measure of results; results are a measure of leadership.

That seems simple enough; but many leaders either ignore or misunderstand this premise. They may not know that getting results is their raison d’etre. Or they may be focusing on the wrong results. Or they may be going after the right results in the wrong ways.

If leaders don’t act on the above premise, they’ll go wrong in countless ways.

Premise two: The best leaders get more results, get them faster, and get “more, faster” continually.

This too may seem like an obvious point, but it is a point many leaders miss as well. In leadership, the greatest sin is the greatest treason, to get the right results for the wrong reasons.

For example, many leaders think that they can cost-cut their way to achieving a robust organization. Don’t get me wrong: Cost-management should be an on-going effort in any organization, but to rely on it as the primary results-generator can lead to an organization being driven into the ground. Achieving “more, faster, continually” means going beyond an exclusive focus on cost-cutting and getting results by tapping the heart of what the organization is all about.

And the heart of any organization is people and purpose: the combination of its central purpose and the actions of the people who manifest that purpose. Those people must be enlisted as cause leaders. Cause leaders do more than accomplish their jobs; they actually take leadership of those jobs and by doing so bring a special motivation, vision, and initiative to the jobs. Leadership is not position, it’s performance. If you are a floor sweeper, say, you best accomplish your work not simply by doing floor sweeping but taking leadership of it: in other words, approaching the job with the distinctive initiative, care, and commitment that leadership entails.

These two essential premises beg the question, how do leaders get more results, faster results on a continual basis?

The answer is simple: Through the Leadership Talk.

What is The Leadership Talk? I’ve discovered that most people understand what The Leadership Talk is without me having to tell them. Answer these two questions.

Is The Leadership Talk a presentation?

You’ll probably say “no”. Presentations are used to communicate primarily information. Leadership Talks go beyond the simple communication of information.

Is The Leadership Talk a speech?
Again, you’ll probably answer “no”. Speeches are somewhat formal communications to an audience, often from a podium. In most cases, a speech involves someone talking and others listening.

Here’s a working definition of The Leadership Talk: The Leadership Talk is a powerful results-generator, maybe the most powerful results-generator you’ll ever use. It works through your interacting with people so that they become motivated to be your cause leader(s) in achieving more results faster, continually.

Leadership Talks can be formal ways of communicating but mostly they are informal. Unlike a speech, they are usually interactive. They can be delivered anywhere: at a conference table, over lunch, at a water cooler, across a desk. (One of the best Leadership Talks I have witnessed was given by a plant supervisor to one of his team members at a company picnic while they sat on the back of a truck, sipping beers.) And in many cases, an effective Leadership Talk can be given when roles are reversed, when the audience speaks to the speaker.

Look at it this way: Leaders speak 15, 20 or more times a day. It is in those interactions that they become successful leaders or not. When those interactions are accomplished not through presentations but through Leadership Talks, results jump dramatically.

Finally, though the methodologies I’ve developed for The Leadership Talk are new, its roots go back into the mists of history. Throughout history, when people needed to accomplish great endeavors, one thing had to happen, a leader had to gather them together and speak from the heart. That leader had to give a Leadership Talk.

This week, examine the communications that people give: Are they presentations, speeches, or Leadership Talks? I understand that right now you may have questions about what a Leadership Talk really is. That’s okay at this stage. When I give seminars on The Leadership Talk, most participants don’t come to truly understand it until the second day of that seminar when they actually have to give a Leadership Talk themselves and listen to others give it. But remember this: The Leadership Talk is not just a leadership tool, it’s a way of life, and it takes a life commitment to fully understand it. (After all, if our leadership is not our life, then our life and our leadership are diminished.)

So, look upon this week as the beginning of the rest of your career, the rest of your life. In this way, be a Leadership Talk observer. Your questions will be answered as The Leadership Talk becomes your daily raiment.

This week simply be an observer. See when people are giving presentations, speeches or Leadership Talks. Understand precisely why they are giving one or the other. You might even keep a notebook. Under four columns write: (1) the name of the person speaking, (2) the objective, (3) the outcome, and (4) which one of the three means of communications was delivered and why.

Week 2: Developing The Leadership Talk: Audience Needs.
Leadership is not about getting people to do what they want to do. If leaders are getting people to do what they already want to do, those leaders wouldn’t be necessary. Leadership, instead, is about convincing people to do what they normally don’t want to do and be passionately committed not to simply doing it but to actually taking leadership of it.

The Leadership Talk is the gateway to accomplishing this. There are three aspects of The Talk that you must deal with. (1) Audience Needs. (2) Strong Belief. (3) Action. Each one of these aspects must be incorporated into each Leadership Talk.

For the next three weeks, we will deal with each aspect.

Audience Need: The purpose of the Leadership Talk is to have people commit to being your cause leader; i.e. be motivated to taking leadership of your cause, not their cause or somebody else’s cause, YOUR cause.

Clearly, you can order them to do a job; and if you’re in a position of authority, they should do it. But they might not do it with full commitment. Or they may resent being ordered. Or they may be inclined to do nothing unless ordered, and so after accomplishing the task, they do little else but wait for the next order.

However, their committing to take leadership involves your establishing a special relationship with them. Ordering somebody to do a job is altogether different than having them take leadership of that job. Clearly, their undertaking the later involves much more commitment on their part.

Furthermore, though you may order people to do a job, you can’t order anybody to take leadership of it. It’s their choice whether they take it or not.

You set up the environment in which they make that choice through The Leadership Talk. And the first step in putting together a Leadership Talk is to understand the needs of your potential cause leaders.

They will not be so motivated without your coming to grip with those needs. That’s because they will not be your cause leader unless and until you are solving a problem of their needs.

All needs are problems. All problems are crying out for solutions.

This week, immerse yourself in their needs. The way to great results is down the road of their needs. Of course both you and your organization have needs too. But if you want to have cause leaders meeting the challenges of the organization’s needs, you must get to the heart of their needs.

Here are tips to do that: (1) What is changing for them? (2) Who would they rather have leading them besides you? (3) What action do they want to take? (4) What do they feel? (5) What do they fear! (6) What’s their major problem? (7) What makes them angry? (8) What do they dream?

Week 3: Developing The Leadership Talk: Belief.
Knowing your audience’s needs is important but it’s only the first step in developing a Leadership Talk. The next step involves belief, not just your belief but theirs. Clearly, you must believe in the cause. But your belief is irrelevant. After all, if you didn’t believe in the cause, you shouldn’t be leading it. The key question is can you transfer your belief to them so that they believe in it as strongly as you do and will commit to becoming your cause leaders.

After all, you are asking people to take leadership for your cause. Taking leadership is a special undertaking, calling for a special commitment. People will not undertake leadership lightly. It is not your choice for them to take leadership. It is their choice. And to weigh the pros and cons of that choice, they want to know two things: who you are and why you are there.

You must tell them or they will tell you. And if they tell you, you may not like what they say.

As to who you are: In their eyes, who you are involves your knowledge/skills as to meeting the challenges of the cause and your commitment to that cause. If they perceive that you have weak knowledge/skills and/or weak commitment, they’ll peg you as unworthy and maybe worse, untrustworthy.

As to you why you are there. There is only one answer to why you are there: They must know that you are there to help them solve the problems of their needs.

Without communicating strong belief on both counts, who you are and why you are there, you cannot give a Leadership Talk to motivate them to be your cause leader.

This week, delve into the belief as aspect of one particular challenge you face. Answer the two questions: do you have the knowledge/skills and strong belief to bring to the challenge, and can you transfer your belief to your potential cause leaders by helping them solve a critical problem of theirs in relationship to the challenge?

Week 4: Developing The Leadership Talk: Action And Results.
The function of The Leadership Talk is to have people take action that gets results -- and more results than simply average results, more results faster, and “more faster” on a continual basis.

This week challenge people to take action to get results. Each day of this week have one person you work with take specific, physical action for results.

As I said in last month’s issue, “Once you begin to see your leadership interactions in terms of physical action, you’ll see your leadership, and the way you get results, in fresh ways. Challenge your cause leaders to take physical action by asking them, ‘What three or four leadership actions, PHYSICAL ACTIONS, will you take to achieve the results we need?’ The difference between people simply saying they will execute their part of the Plan and them committing to specific physical actions leads to a significant difference in results.”

I repeat these instructions from last month’s issue so that you can use action challenges you’ve already employed as a leg up to put together Leadership Talks. It will take you awhile to put together your Talks. Since you’re not in an Action Leadership seminar, where the participants learn tested processes to create and deliver Leadership Talks in a relatively short period of time, you’ll have to rely on putting them together piece-meal.

But in these initial stages of learning about and accomplishing Leadership Talks, putting them together piece meal is an effective way of beating the curve. After all, leadership is long and careers are short. You are not learning to give Leadership Talks as a short term endeavor. It should be a career-endeavor. So, learn it step by step. Take your time. Be constantly aware of the three triggers, Need, Belief, Action. Speak from and to those triggers. Swim in the brisk waters of The Leadership Talk. It can be the best thing you’ll ever do for your career.

SECTION TWO: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
Herb Rammrath, a General Electric client of mine in the late 1980s, told me this. “I was a young Naval officer reporting with many other new sailors aboard an aircraft carrier. The captain met us in a formation on the flight deck. He shook my hand and went down the line greeting many other sailors. I didn’t think anything of it until several weeks later when he passed by me in a passageway. He said, ‘Hi, Herb!’ I never forgot that. He remembered my name despite the fact that he had met scores of new sailors that day. It’s made a tremendous impact on me till this day.”

Remember their names, and they won’t forget you because they will know that it was more than simply your name that you remembered.

The 1801 battle for Copenhagen had been raging for hours with the British fleet bombarding the city while taking punishment from the shore guns. The commander of the fleet, Sir Hyde Parker, sent up a flag message signaling, “discontinue action.” The captain of one of the ships, Horatio Nelson, who had lost his eye in the Mediterranean battle of Calvi seven years before, put the telescope to his sightless eye.
“I see no signal to discontinue,” he said. The officers around him insisted the signal was being sent. “I have a right to be blind sometimes. After all, I have only one eye. There’s no signal out there to discontinue.” He kept his ship fighting. The British were eventually victorious.
Sometimes leaders must not see what others see to turn a hopeless cause into a successful one.

At Matsubishi Electric, there’s a tiny room with straw dummies that resemble foremen. Workers can go there and attack the dummies with bamboo sticks. It’s called a “control room.” While possessing the control room, the company grew by 30 percent a year for 25 years.

One of the greatest delusions of leadership is thinking that you are liked.

SECTION THREE: Guest Report.
Leadership Is A Work In Progress
Rick Brown
President & General Manager
GE Silicones
Core Products Division

David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC said, “A kick in the seat of the pants often gets you farther along in your career than a pat on the back.”

I was sitting down when I got my good kick in the seat of the pants. I was in my office talking with my human resources director. We were discussing fourth quarter results, which weren’t great, and certainly not what we had expected given the effort we had put in during the past year. Over all, sales were flat, and my team’s goal was to drive growth. Even though this was one of GE’s more mature businesses, I had been brought in to make changes and help the business reach its potential. I came to this business from another GE business where we had been growing dramatically. My success there was one of the major reasons that I was asked to come to this business. But growth was not happening here. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Then I got the kick.

My human resource director said, “Rick, you’re not reaching their hearts.”

Of course, it wasn’t a literal kick, but the words, which I had never expected to hear, got my attention immediately. For the past year, I had been doing the things that been tremendously successful in the previous business: setting high expectations, holding people accountable, repeating the implementation of successful processes, moving people out who couldn’t get the job done; and bringing in new blood. They were all best practices that I had used in the past, but in this situation the best practices weren’t panning out.

And here was the human resources director saying that something more was needed than business practices.

Shortly after that, I was given a new leadership opportunity, the opportunity to run a brand new GE business in North Carolina.

Boy, did I do things differently with the new opportunity. Today, I am much more conscious of the people environment of the business. Sure, I push the right business drivers hard: results-processes, financial discipline, rigorous analysis, and market savvy. But I push hard for something else too, that’s reaching people’s hearts.

I’m listening more, talking less, letting people be involved in decisions that effect them, not dictating to them. For instance, I didn’t come in with pre-set ideas on what’s going to work but took the time to find out what makes the people of the business tick For the first three months after I arrived, I described a vision of success, but I never dictated how we should get there. I asked a lot of questions, got people involved in developing a path to get there.

What a difference a good kick in the seat of the pants makes! The difference can be seen in results, the results between the division I previously ran and the division I now run. Those results are like night and day. Here’s my big lesson: The people you lead want to know that they are there WITH you not simply for you. When they believe that you care about their success, they’ll accomplish great things.

SECTION FOUR: Points of Light.
The Greeks had a saying that says a lot about Leadership Talks. ‘When Achines speaks, we say, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes speaks, we say, ‘Let’s march against Phillip!’

“Aside from action, the most important part of The Leadership Talk, that part where we lead and are aware of leading, lies in the realm of emotion. Emotion not only reveals the speaker to the audience, but more importantly, reveals the audience to themselves.” –Brent Filson

Some say a word is dead
when it is said.
But I say it’s
just begun to live that day.
–Emily Dickinson

“Achieving more results faster, continually never happens by accident. And it always comes with a price. That price is The Leadership Talk.” –Brent Filson

“An impossibility does not disturb us until its accomplishment shows what fools we are.” Henry Haskins

“Henceforth, I ask not for good fortune. I myself am good fortune.” Walt Whitman

“If you can’t feel it, you can’t lead it, and they won’t do it.” –Brent Filson

“One orator in a family, nay even in a city, is enough.” –Cicero

“When words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.” Shakespeare

“The Leadership Talk is the trim tab of all careers.” –Brent Filson

Brent Filson’s Action plan leadership session at the Princeton Club: December 17.

Quick Speech is up and running! If you have a speech to give, go to the Quick Speech button at and download the template. Fill in the blanks, and you’ll have a powerful speech. Quick Speech is the highly popular companion supplement to Brent’s book, EXECUTIVE SPEECHES, 51 CEOS TELL YOU HOW TO DO YOURS. Quick Speech has sold thousands of copies, but now it is available to you for free. Remember, the speech is not an end in and of itself but the gateway to The Leadership Talk. Learn to give speeches Brent Filson’s way and you’ll be better grounded to give Leadership Talks later on.

Brent’s latest book, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: MOTIVATING PEOPLE TO GET MORE RESULTS FASTER, CONTINUALLY has just been printed. A major library distributor has picked up the book. It is due for publication in the spring of ‘04. Prepublication copies are available now for bulk purchase.
Brent is booked in a number of speaking this fall and winter, bringing the methodologies of Action Leadership to ever widening audiences. In addition, he is being interviewed on radio and TV shows. Interested in having him on your show or at your meeting, go to the Action Leadership website and click on either the “meeting planner” button or the “press room” button.

The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. is putting together a CD collection of interviews with leaders, called the “Leaders Speak” Series. It will begin this month and can be found on the Action Leadership website. Click on “Leaders Speak CD Series.” Brent says, “I want to interview leaders from a broad spectrum of human endeavor to be represented. Don’t be surprised to find landscape contractors, gang leaders, horse trainers, sports coaches, as well as business and political leaders. Leadership is practiced by practically everyone, and we will bring it to you on the CDs in all the richness of human relationships.” For more information, call the F.L.G. headquarters, 413-458-4403 or contact Brent.

(413) 458-4403

(c) Copyright 2003 The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.

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