Great thought from Julie Greenwald, chairwoman and CEO of Atlantic Records Group, as reported in the NY Times (2/6/11): "I hate public speaking. The only way I conquered it was being put on the spot all the time. In order to lead, you have to be a public speaker, and you need to be able to drive the meeting."
Leadership and public speaking go hand in hand. Not just boring, trite speeches and presentations that are bland and filled with numbers and jargon-driven boilerplate. You have to take risks, be creative and innovative in your speaking. When you embody by your own words and delivery that you are a visionary, and that you're driving innovation and creativity through your very own person, the message comes across that you mean it. And when the CEO or leader means it, others will be inspired to travel that path as well.
Leadership by example is true leadership. When I coach CEOs and leaders to craft and deliver speeches unlike those they've delivered in the past, their internal and external audiences wake up and pay attention. They talk about the speech long afterwards. And they begin to wonder if they could do the same.
A recent client wrote that during her team's presentation to a selection board, most of the board were listening in a desultory manner. Then 5 minutes into the presentation (the opening speaker reverted to his boring old ways), one speaker started her part by saying "when I think of the universe, I think of unlimited possibilities and undiscovered territories." The selection board looked up. As she continued talking about honoring the long lives of their elderly clientele and giving them hope for the future the audience stopped their doodling and leaned forward to really pay attention. This is leadership personified.
How about you? How do you lead by speaking?