I was watching the beginning of the movie Patton. If you haven’t seen it, it begins with George C. Scott as General Patton giving an incredible speech. YouTube has only the audio, but here it is.
Many see giving a speech like that as the pinnacle of leadership — “I have a dream,” the Gettysburg Address, Churchill’s great speeches, and so on.
If they are the pinnacle of leadership, I can’t say, but they do showcase many of history’s greatest leaders.
So, those interested in leading may ask, how one gets to give such a great speech. Giving such speeches requires two elements — the skill to deliver and the opportunity. Both come from one place. It may sound too simple and itself sound too impossible, but it points to what you have to do if you want to lead well, even if not at that level.
To give a speech like that, you have to have given a speech almost like that, but to smaller audience, maybe not quite as spectacular.
Well, how do you give one almost as good, even to a smaller audience?
By giving one almost as good as that, to a yet smaller audience.
You can see where I’m going — you have to start small and build. So how do you start small? You begin with the simple basics of leadership — organizing people, doing the grunt work no one else will do except someone who cares the most, but developing the skills that it takes to organize and lead people. To get good at that, you have to know yourself, what matters to you, and what you’re capable of enough to devote yourself to a cause.
I suspect most leaders don’t look forward to giving great speeches. I’m sure they’re glad they do, but I bet they don’t look forward to doing it like you might expect if you think leading is about glory. I bet they look at it as something they have to do because the situation demands it.
In any case, if you want to reach a stage of leadership in a cause that demands such speeches, that tells you what you have to do here and now — not to practice giving speeches or to convince others of your greatness, but to get the job done on a project many people find worthy.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book