Welcome to the 2011-2012 financial year!
My apologies that we have not sent out the newsletter regularly over the last few months. Due to some catastrophic computer failures and losses, we have been migrating to new systems and are now back up and running confidently. I hope you enjoy the latest Lamplighter e-newsletter and welcome your comments as always.
There's More to it Than A King's Speech
When you watch the recent movie, The King's Speech, it easy to be struck by how every segment of society needs to face the need to speak out and find one's voice. But there's more to delivering a speech worthy of a king to lead people.
With the recent release of The King's Speech on DVD, I feel safe in now commenting on the movie without causing spoilers. Worthy of its Oscars, the film portrays the challenges faced by King George VI on his ascension to the throne on the cusp of World War II. His relationship with speech therapist and coach Lional Logue is brilliantly portrayed by both Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth. With his spot-on voicing of extreme stuttering, Firth makes it easy to understand how terrifying it must have been for Prince Albert (about to become King George) to face speaking in front of crowds of thousands and, via the radio, of millions around the world.
As a coach and, specifically, as a Public Speaking coach people have asked me for my response to the movie. While watching the movie, I reacted quite differently from the audiences I sat with. I was instantly struck by how "true" this story was, according to my experience. From the first meeting between Lionel and Prince Albert to the final delivery of a scripted speech, so much of the actions and characteristics of the work they did together echoed my own experiences - personally, in my own development, and with my clients. Even the way Lionel first talks to Albert - Lionel sitting in a hard back chair facing Albert on the couch - was a direct mirror of my methods with clients in my own office.
There were a number of very theatrical exercises and incidents in the movie, of course. (I have not to my recollection ever had anyone sit on someone else to help with diaphragm development.) And although I do conduct vocal exercises and develop vocal strength and enunciation with some clients I am not a speech therapist.
But three central themes stood out for me in this tale of a leader of nations:
1. It took tremendous courage for Albert to face his nightmares and stand up to speak. It's heart-rending and agonizing to watch King George speaking at the Royal Scottish Exhibition (you can view the Scottish Speech here on Youtube - watch especially at almost 3:00 minutes into the clip). This kind of fear constantly faces many people - wether in public speaking or just managing the challenges of the day. It takes courage, however, to persevere and work through those fears and take the lead.
2. It is absolutely vital for a leader to speak out on behalf of those he or she wishes to lead. King George knew he could not abdicate this responsibility. Someone else couldn't speak for him and he knew it was his duty to do so. He also knew that he needed to speak in a way that reflected the very real concerns and fears of his people.
3. It's not about the speech - character matters more than your words. King George (and the Queen Mother) were both praised for staying in London during WWII throughout the blitz. They were willing to risk their lives along with the citizens, in order to encourage and bolster the confidence of the people. This, more than any number of speeches, convinced the people that his words were worth listening to.
On their recent tour of Canada and the US, Prince William and Princess Kate have been surrounded by crowds of hundreds of thousands. As it stands today, his character and the character of their relationship, has been a drawing card for people from all walks of life. But William was also highly regarded for his speeches and especially for a speech he gave about the sacrifices of military families, in support of those serving in different conflicts around the world. Considering his military service, now in Search and Rescue, it is a subject close to his heart. His words were not spent in vain with his audience - they connected with him and with his intent at very deep levels and appreciated both his words and his character.
It takes more than a king's speech to move people, but if you match the words with your character then it's well worth the effort.
All the best in your endeavours.
Consulting Experiences - Sometimes It Takes Hard Work for People to be Honest
Working with a particular company here in Perth, I was struck once again by how much leadership depends on being honest with yourself.
I was working with the company to improve performance and profitability across a number of staff and areas. As can happen in my work, my observations over time indicated that there were deficiencies with some of the leaders. Management needed to accept that some senior personnel weren't leading their teams very effectively and that there was a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the senior personnel's communication, management and systems that were in place.
Talking with the Senior Leaders, some were able to instantly face their responsibility for having made some strategic errors in the past. Others had a far more difficult time - it really was painful for them - and I had to point to a number of proofs as well as work through those individuals' own concerns, anxieties and the business and internal political situation in order to point them down a better path.
Under our "Productivity-Driven Leadership" model, one of the principles that I espouse is that productive and positive results must always be the focus of a leader. This requires being honest with yourself, your capabilities, your needs and then seeking assistance in working on each of those areas. Our success is often determined by our willingness to put ego aside, get help and invest the resources necessary to achieve that success. Some of those senior leaders were able to do this, others had greater difficulty and thus are not achieving as much.
Sometimes it really is hard work to be honest about yourself and those around you, but ultimately it's worth the pain.
Productivity-Driven Leadership Breakfast Presentation
I recently spoke on "Productivity-Driven Leadership" to a packed room for the Local Chambers of Commerce, at Ascot Quays. It was a tremendous morning. I heartily recommend the Local Chambers for their commitment to business.
Sarah Bellow, the organiser, had this to say:
"Peter McLean recently engaged Local Chambers members and guests in a brilliant, motivating presentation on ‘Productivity Driven Leadership’. His message was very well received by the members who thoroughly enjoyed his enthusiastic style. Peter is a pleasure to work with and I highly recommend his services."
I'll be speaking on this topic again for one of the most dynamic business groups in Perth - Rotary Club Crawley - and am looking forward to continuing this discussion of what makes for great leadership.
Authentic Speaking® - August 1-2 2011 Workshop
There are a couple of spaces left in our next Authentic Speaking® workshop for 2011, from August 1-2.
Visit www.authenticspeaking.com.au/Workshops.html for workshop details or email email@example.com to register.
Personally Speaking - "Child Artists"
My two oldest daughters each wrote a song last Friday night. On the weekend they were going over each other’s songs. They were particularly practising my eldest’s song (she is 8 years old), rehearsing the lyrics and tune while we drove in the car – it’s a catchy song. We stopped and exited the car. As we walked, my second (who is 7 years old), happily took my hand and we kept chatting as we entered a building.
A few days prior I happened to have been talking with my eight year old about copyright laws – noting how it was required to get permission from a songwriter if you wanted to change the words and perform in public. But it was still a surprise when Katherine, still holding my hand and smiling, told me: “Daddy, Mikhayla said that if I want to sing her song, then I need to write to her!” and went on to relate Mikhayla's property rights.
Although I’m glad to see my girls are already strong on guarding their intellectual property, I hope they don’t try to charge me for it.
Thanks for your comments.