If you want to get good at leadership, seriously good, you have to get good at leading out loud, from the front of the room. It’s been pissing me off lately to see how many people given a platform and opportunity to share wisdom and light back away from doing the work. Perhaps it’s the old, ‘if I don’t really try it’s okay if I suck’ approach. I’m familiar with this attitude – it’s how I cook, vacuum and dress myself for charity balls. But it’s a total cop out right?
I was at an event a few months ago, that I’d paid to attend, and nearly every leader who had been invited to speak started by sharing how nervous they were, or how they had prepped that morning and scribbled down some notes. Nice one Stu.
What a privilege in today’s frenetic business environment to have the attention of your colleagues and customers. What an honour to be given time to educate, entertain and challenge. I reckon if you’re not prepared to do the work, get off the stage. You don’t have to be amazing first time around but you have to want to be in the game.
I was invited to speak at a small dinner at my son’s school to celebrate the students who had started their high school years together and made it through seven years of schooling. I often speak for 3 days so when the organisers emailed to say I had 3 minutes, I cracked up laughing. What could I possibly say of any value in such a short time? Sarah Hurwitz, Michelle Obama’s speech writer used to prepare by asking herself ‘what is the deepest, truest thing I can say at this moment?’
I agonised over those three minutes that turned into ten. I felt the weight of responsibility. Did I need to warn them of the dangers of drugs, drunk driving, too much sex with too little love? Perhaps they’d like to know about how to make money (I could help), how to save money (I could not help), how to spend money (I’m an expert).
In the end I encouraged them to spend less time worrying about what they were going to do and instead think about who they were going to be. I shared with them the golden rule of life that trumps all others, those four magic words that ought govern every aspect of our lives, and I told them that as parents we loved them, and always, always would.
If you need help crafting messages that matter, in overcoming your nerves when you speak in public, I can help. Sharing your thoughts, and stories is an opportunity to step up and lead out loud. Getting rockstar good at it will transform your career.
Those four magic words?
Don’t be a dick.