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Friday, April 23, 2010

Citizenship in a Republic

One hundred years ago today, US President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the Sorbonne in the Grand Amphitheatre at the University of Paris. He had come to Paris with his son Kermit, just days before - by way of the Orient Express - to give his ‘Citizenship in a Republic’ speech.

The speech emphasised his belief that the success of a republic rested not on the brilliance of its citizens but on disciplined work and character; the quality of its people. 

He told the audience: “Self-restraint, self-mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution—these are the qualities which mark a masterful people.” And importantly, a democracy needed leaders of the highest calibre in order to hold the average citizen to a high standard. They were to do this not by words alone but by their deeds as well. “Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand.”

Roosevelt firmly believed that one learned by doing. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticise those that are “in the arena” he explained. “The poorest way to face life is with a sneer.” It is a sign of weakness. “To judge a man merely by success,” he said, “is an abhorrent wrong.”

The famous paragraph from that speech, reproduced below, expressed the standard by which he judged himself and others:

‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.’

Read the complete text of the speech - http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html


Can Scottish Enterprise help to build better businesses?

From The Herald (23 April 2010):

'Scottish Enterprise does not possess 2020 vision. The agency was bang on the money in its focus on technology commercialisation and creating a more globally competitive Scottish economy when it rolled out its three-year business plan yesterday. Scotland has a long history of enterprising small companies growing to a certain size before selling out to foreign competition or plodding along in the home market without the know-how or confidence to exploit the scope for exports.

If Scotland is to thrive in the 21st century global economy, it needs to nurture a new generation of globally-competent companies....

However, the acid test of SE’s work, if the agency’s stated ambitions are to be believed, is how many more .... big global players...we will have on our corporate stage. The secret of their success was not a big helping hand from the government but dynamic leadership, clear vision and vaulting ambition. 

As it happens, this was precisely the point made to Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee this week by Scottish Enterprise chairman, Crawford Gillies. He argued that for Scotland to raise the bar on productivity and target new markets at home and abroad, the Scottish business base needs better leadership.......

In the past Scotland has depended heavily on the public sector, particularly, for employment. With deep public spending cuts on the agenda, whoever walks into 10 Downing Street on May 7, that can no longer be relied on. The country has rarely been so dependent on business growth to fill the looming economic gap.' 


Imagine Yourself........Leading


Why is it that some Leaders speak so well in public?

Public speaking is an invaluable skill no matter what your leadership role is, whether you are in sales, need to talk to investors or just want to be better at getting buy-in from your colleagues.

Here are three rules for successful public speaking that should help you:

The first rule is to ask the audience a lot of questions. Asking questions helps get the audience really thinking about the issues you're raising and your solutions. Now, if you are speaking to an audience of 3,000, it can't always be interactive. But you can still ask questions like, "When you are buying a car, why do you choose a Ford over a Toyota?" "What marketing campaigns do you think have failed, and why?" Those rhetorical questions help engage audiences and keep them away from their text messages and e-mails.

Similarly, try not to talk too much about yourself or your company at the beginning of a speech. Get right to what will matter to the audience. The first 30 seconds of a presentation are critical. That's when the audience decides whether to listen to you or surf for last night's football scores on its iPhones.

No one wants to hear about how big your company is or where you went to school. Just get right into the meat of your speech.

The key: Don't talk at the audience. Talk with it.

The second rule of successful public speaking is to tell stories to illustrate your points. Don't just tell people what you think; show them, with specific examples and tales.

The third rule is to go easy on the PowerPoint. It can be a useful tool for showing graphs or visual aids to complement important points, but too many people make it the focus of their presentations, in place of themselves and their actual message. Most audience members' minds go numb when they see too many slides or they're too densely packed with information. They tune out and start surfing the Web on their handhelds, especially when the animations and sound effects start.

More often than not, when someone has too many slides the audience will pay attention to what slide out of how many we are on instead of what the speaker's saying. Can we really be on slide 7 of 85? Desperation settles in.

How can you make PowerPoint effective? Be simple. Use short words and phrases to make large conceptual points, and never go longer than 20 slides. Get the audience to focus on you and your words, not the slides. When you have too many dense slides, the audience takes notes but doesn't really listen and comprehend what is going on. That is a waste. There is no better time than during a speech to make a business case for your point. Use PowerPoint as a tool to help get your ideas across.

Giving a speech is pointless if no one is paying attention. You need to grab your audience from the beginning by asking questions, telling stories and relying on your own speaking rather than a bunch of boring slides. If you can do those three things, then your battle is already half-won. 



Debriefing is a value of Positive Leadership.

‘Learning involves the gradual reduction of error, like a sniffer dog slowly feathering towards the scent we sniff out our goals.  This process involves recognising when we’re losing the scent, and adjusting our course to cater for this.  This process of continuously assessing, analysing, reflecting and learning is all based upon a single skill that various high performance organisations have implemented….that skill is continuous debriefing.’ Unknown

Here are some reference materials which speak to this value: