Leadership in 3

I’ve been asked to run a session for senior managers/directors with the brief of causing them to think about how to make their leadership truly inspirational.

As projects go, this is right up there; my first response was to think, “this has to be one of the top commissions of all time”. However, after several days of initial preparation I hit a problem – how on earth can I distill several hundred ideas into something meaningful and applicable for all? Then I applied the “Power of 3” and have gone from overloaded to focussed.

I’ve talked about the Power of 3 before. It’s a well documented process of communication dating back to Aristotle although more recently attributed to Steve Jobs. In essence the key is to distill what you wish to communicate into three headings and then illustrate each with three examples or points. It’s proven that an audience can digest and retain three things – any more and they’re likely to be overloaded. Some of the best orators and their most famous speeches illustrate the concept brilliantly:

“Never before in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many, to so few”
Sir Winston Churchill

“Veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered)
Julius Caesar

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
The American Declaration of Independence

But in addition to being a great communications method it’s also an excellent discipline to enable you to edit ruthlessly but hopefully without dumbing down or missing important points out. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether my outline for “Inspirational Leadership” passes this test.

There are three key components to leadership:

  1. To identify and to make sure the team are focussed on the right things.
  2. To communicate what these right things are in ways that are super clear and compelling for every member of the team.
  3. To create the right environment (not just physical but in all respects) to enable people to want to do their very best and to give their discretionary effort.

Of course there are other aspects to leadership but I feel these are the key three and the rest can be left out in order that the message is received, understood and acted upon.

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