It’s not the deck of dozens of catchy PowerPoint slides that makes you more qualified than the next person…it’s your original thought leadership. Whether it’s to an audience of one or one thousand people, you are expected to consistently engage and inspire, while you predictably persuade people to say “yes.” That’s when you know your leadership DNA is strong. Your promotions become predictable, because so do your results. But you don’t get there without critical thinking and self-examination of what you’ve been doing wrong…and how to start doing it right.
Frame Your Sound Bites
A professional boxer once said “Winning is not about how many punches I throw. It’s about how few punches are needed to knock you out.” Use fewer words, but choose them strategically so that each one is loaded with knockout power. What’s the essence of what you want to communicate? Write each of those key points down and capture them in just 4-6 words each. Don’t reveal everything in the recipe. Just offer enough of a taste to hook them and make them want more.
Perform Due Diligence
To do that really well, you have to do your research and find out how to personally appeal to those you want to convince…the senior execs, division leaders, or departmental heavyweights. Then frame your presentation in such a way that it solves their problems, not just yours. Your goal is to show them why they’ll look good when the performance metrics are later evaluated, based on the initiative you’re putting forward for their approval.
But Stop Being a People Pleaser
You know the people pleasers in your company…and you call them much less flattering names that highlight the fact that instead of working their way up they try to just kiss-up. Nobody respects that kind of lazy leader. But throughout your career, especially if you’ve done sales, you’ve been programmed to be a people pleaser by constantly reinforcing whatever other people think and feel. You need to quit doing that, because as Einstein pointed out, the same mindset that caused your problems will never effectively resolve them. Instead of spoon-feeding them more status quo, be a solution-oriented thought leader who bravely goes forward while others stay stuck in the stagnant comfort zone.
Get Beyond the Obvious
Oftentimes that requires a deeper understanding of organizational DNA…where it’s weak and needs to be healed or where it’s vibrant and needs to go viral. Don’t just give the same old hackneyed presentation template everyone else follows like a robot. Never tell decision makers what they already know…just inform them about what is lurking in the blind spots and how you plan to illuminate those with fresh insights and innovations they haven’t yet heard. While others point out the obvious, you should shine light on what is not so obvious…which creates a fertile ground for new strategies, untapped resources, and positively disruptive innovations.
Put the Universe on the Head of a Pin
To think of those things, you have to cultivate a new mindset. You always hear me talk about the need to have laser focus. Without that you waste energy, people’s time, money and resources, and your leadership power. But I also constantly implore my clients to expand their perspective to one that is panoramic, encompasses the whole organization, and supports inclusion and collaboration. So how do you take a broad view…from a high altitude…while concentrating with extreme focus, like a laser aimed at a gnat? Figure out that mindset trick, my friend, and you’ll become a leadership legend in your own time. Now I’ll tell you how to do it.
Think Big But Stay Concise
Open your mind – and that means your eyes and ears – especially to ideas that you may disagree with, resist, or not fully grasp. Those will either show you opportunity you’ve been blinded to, or they will give you ammunition to debunk opposing arguments when you convince others to do it your way, instead. Think way beyond yourself, to see what the whole organization wants and needs. That will give you gigantic leadership ideas. But when you communicate those, use words that are lasers, not fishing nets. When you tackle a task, focus on the essence. When someone speaks, don’t think past them…listen to them. When you inspire and train your team, do it in a way that they internalize the lesson. Tap into their genuine motivational needs and personal aspirations with razor sharp awareness of who they are…while simultaneously showing them big, wide, authentic empathy.
Where are you blind spots? Do you need a trusted advisor to point them out and save you from just fumbling your way through presentations…and through your leadership career?