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Über dieses Buch

Top speechwriter, Simon Lancaster, blends ancient rhetoric and neuroscience to create the ultimate practical guide to the Language of Leadership.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Introduction

On 26 July 2012, my wife Lucy and I were in Hyde Park along with 250,000 others to celebrate the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was a perfect summer day: drinks flowed, Dizzee Rascal boomed out blistering versions of ‘Bassline Junkie’ and ‘Bonkers’… but then Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, staggered on stage. The crowd murmured disapprovingly at the sight of the politician. Someone shouted ‘wanker’. A few people took out their phones and pressed record.

Simon Lancaster

Winning Minds — The Secret Science of the Language of Leadership

Chapter 1. Winning Minds — The Secret Science of the Language of Leadership

It’s Christmas 2014 and I’m in the Red Lion, a snug, warm pub in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. There’s a roaring fire, I’m sitting in a big leather armchair but, although I’ve come here to work on the final draft of a speech about leadership, I’m not making much progress. A group of men on the table next to me are raucously arguing about how much money they would need to win on the lottery to stop work. A guy turns to me. ‘What’s the annual interest on a million pounds?’ ‘£30,000?’ I guess. The guy smiles. ‘There. You can buy a house in Merthyr Tydfil for £30,000.’ Someone snips in. ‘Yes, but what would you do with the other £29,000!’ More laughter. I’m invited to join their table.

Simon Lancaster

Winning the Instinctive Mind

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. Metaphors that Move Minds

The Dark Ages. The Enlightenment. The invisible hand of the market. The Industrial Revolution. The Iron Curtain. The wind of change. The Swinging Sixties. The Winter of Discontent. The Iron Lady. The financial storm. The credit crunch. The housing bubble. Nudge. Blink. Tipping point.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 3. The Look of Leadership

A FTSE CEO once invited me along when he was going ‘walkabout’ around his company. This was a great opportunity for me as his speechwriter. Going walkabout is one of the biggest tests of any leader. This is when you learn what they’re really like. A whole day cannot be acted: sooner or later the mask must slip, producing one of those ‘moments of truth’ when a person’s real identity is revealed. One of my best friends has met his CEO three times. Each time, they have exactly the same conversation. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘And what do you do?’ ‘That sounds very important. Keep it up.’ His boss fails that ‘moment of truth’.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 4. Inner Purpose

Whenever I go to a conference or event, I am always struck by how some people just stand out: they have a kind of magical buzz around them, an aura that energises all around. When they speak, everyone listens. When they move, others follow. You know the kind of people I’m talking about: the kind you just know are standing behind you, even without having to turn around. These people are natural leaders; their every word and action speaks leadership in volumes. They stand in marked contrast to the ordinary Joes and Josephines cowering away in the corners, clutching their tea and biscuits. The leaders know why they are there and they know what they are doing. They have purpose. Purpose is critical to the Language of Leadership.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 5. Empathy and the Power of Nice

In the general election of 2010, the first- ever televised debates took place in the UK. All the party leaders approached them with trepidation, desperate not to appear an idiot. Afterwards, most pundits and pollsters agreed that Nick Clegg won those debates hands down. Now, there were many reasons why Clegg came out on top: first, he was not as well known as David Cameron and Gordon Brown so had the advantage of looking the freshest; second, he represented the centrist party — an optimum point in persuasion — representing the fulcrum; but, third, and most pertinently, he was the only one of the three leaders who went out of his way to align himself to the audience — showing he was on their side, not against them.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 6. Smiles and Humour

In September 2014, world leaders descended upon Newport in South Wales for a NATO summit. During a break in proceedings, David Cameron and Barack Obama went to visit a local school. Footage of this was broadcast around the world. I watched it on BBC News. The interviewer went up to one of the schoolgirls and asked what the president and the prime minister had said. She replied: ‘They didn’t say very much. They just smiled.’

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 7. Breathing

Every parent has a child care secret they proudly share with anyone who wants to listen, so here’s mine: when my daughters were babies and going through the inevitable sleepless nights, I had a little technique to turn them from screaming banshees to gorgeous Buddhas in minutes. I held them tightly to my chest and deliberately imitated their breathing. Then I slowed it down. As my chest pressed out, so would theirs; before long our breathing would sync. We’d be breathing in harmony.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 8. Style

Cabinet reshuffles are an exciting time in Whitehall. As speechwriter to a cabinet minister, you never know whether the boss is going to move; nor can you be sure that, if they do move, they’re going to invite you along with them. In 2007, I moved with Alan Johnson when he was shuffled from the Department of Education to the Department of Health. Instantly there were a number of major speeches and parliamentary statements to write. I was plunged head first into a series of meetings to acquaint me with the issues. These meetings were horrendous. Everyone spoke this awful jargon. Everyone was constantly saying words like benchmarking, collaborating, beacons, deliverables, frameworks. I emerged from one of these meetings and said to the official beside me, someone who had been working at the department for years: ‘I didn’t understand a word of that.’ ‘Oh!’ she said. ‘Thank God! I thought it was just me!’

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 9. What’s in a Name?

The other night, Lucy and I were in a restaurant. When the waitress came over to tell us our table was ready, a couple nearby heard our name was Lancaster and instantly came over to strike up conversation. They were also Lancasters — a couple of generations older — and we then chatted throughout the evening, swapping notes on the Lancasters of the north of England, the Lancasters in Wales, the Lancasters in London and beyond. The oxytocin was flowing… There was no blood tie between us but we bonded through little more than our names.

Simon Lancaster

Winning the Emotional Mind

Frontmatter

Chapter 10. Stories and Emotion

Have you seen the 1980s film Stand By Me? If you have, I bet you remember the scene when the kids sit around the campfire, all huddled up, listening intently as Gordie told the story about Davie Hogan: otherwise known as… ‘Lardass’. It was a tragic tale. For years, Lardass had been teased and tormented about his weight by everyone in the town. But one day, he hatched a wicked plan for his revenge. He entered the local pie-eating contest. Before taking part in the contest, he swallowed a dozen raw eggs and a whole bottle of castor oil. Soon after eating his first pie, his belly started churning. The more pies he ate, the more ominous rumbling sounds emerged. Finally, as he tucked into his fifth blueberry pie, he could hold back no longer: he barfed all over the place. This made his chief tormentor barf over someone else. Then that person barfed on the mayor’s wife. Before long, everyone was barfing. And everyone was barfed upon. It was a barfarama. And Lardass sat back in his chair, satisfied. Justice had been done.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 11. Personal Stories

When we fall in love, there comes a moment of beautiful connection. It is that special moment when we share something personal and intimate, maybe something we’ve never told anyone else before: a major story about something in our lives. In the movies, they typically depict this moment taking place atop the Hollywood Hills in a red Cadillac after a night at a funfair.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 12. Creating Cultures

Every family has a collection of stories they love telling and retelling, over and over. These stories might be happy, they might be sad. You know the kind of thing: the stories told after a few drinks at Christmas: stories of miscreant uncles, shock bereavements and hilarious mishaps. These stories bind the family together.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 13. Harnessing History

Do you remember Sainsbury’s Christmas advert in 2014? They recreated the legendary scene from the trenches in the First World War when British and German soldiers abandoned hostilities for an evening, swapped presents and played football. The evocative advert went viral instantly, appearing on Facebook and Twitter with comments such as ‘Oh my God — this made me cry’. The story created a powerful sense of nostalgia and togetherness: moods that then became intertwined with Sainsbury’s at Christmas.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 14. The Value of Values

Values are — as the word suggests — the things in life that we most value. Whilst our opinions blow with the wind and our attitudes change over time, our values and beliefs tend to remain fixed throughout our lives.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 15. Great Words We Love

The trouble with my line of work is that, when someone gives feedback on a speech, I know what they really mean. If someone says ‘Exquisite. Beautiful. Great feeling’ I know that I have hit the spot. However, if someone says ‘Good. Working well. Like the structure’, I know I could have done better. There are some words that people only use when their emotions are flowing, and other words that show they are not really bothered.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 16. Flattery and Love

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the most successful salesperson in history is a guy from Detroit called Joe Girard. Between 1963 and 1978, Joe Girard sold a whopping 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership, averaging six car sales a day. When asked the secret of his success, he explained, ‘People want a fair deal from someone they like.’ So how did he get people to like him? ‘Simple,’ he replied, ‘I tell them that I like them.’

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 17. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition

Special advisers in Whitehall are, as the term implies, special. Some are especially charming. Others are especially obnoxious. I’ll never forget hearing about one particularly offensive special adviser who said to their Secretary of State shortly after arriving at a new department, ‘You can’t trust the press office, you can’t trust the economists, you can’t trust the lawyers…’ And so the list went on. You can easily see how this kind of repetition could sweep a new arrival along, instilling in them a sense of fear, creating a powerful emotional reaction. That’s what repetition does. It communicates emotion.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 18. The Eternal Power of Exaggeration

Have you ever found yourself up late at night, worrying about something seriously trivial? Did you reply to that email? Did you unplug the iron? Did you put the chain on the door? No matter what you try, you just can’t shake it out of your head.

Simon Lancaster

Winning the Logical Mind

Frontmatter

Chapter 19. Threes! Threes! Threes!

When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2008, he had everything to lose. His move into the crowded mobile-phone market was audacious, even by his standards. He spent months working on his product launch and his script went through several edits and redrafts. The irony was that, for all the cutting-edge technology in the iPhone, the text in his product launch was based around a rhetorical device that had existed for thousands of years.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 20. Balance

One of the proudest moments in any parent’s life comes when their children take their first steps. Months of effort, determination, banged heads, bruises and tantrums will have preceded this moment; but, at that point, the child gains one of the single most important traits required of mankind: balance.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 21. Rhyme or Reason

In the early 1970s, Ronald Powell Bagguley, the head teacher of a small primary school in Derbyshire, wrote to the Sunday Times bemoaning the influence of television, calling for a return to good old-fashioned nursery rhymes. His letter was read by a musician in New York. The musician was so incensed he immediately fired off a response to the head teacher, via the newspaper. He said, instead of criticising, he should look at the positive ways rhymes could be used on television to promote learning: like Sesame Street, teaching children to read using jingles, just as the old nursery rhymes. The musician urged the head teacher to get with it. He signed off, cheekily quoting the Alka Seltzer ad: ‘Try it, you’ll like it’.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 22. Power of Perspective

In 1773, James Boswell took Samuel Johnson to Edinburgh, to show off his home city. They wandered down one of those narrow old Georgian alleys, just a couple of metres wide when they looked up and saw two women leaning out of their windows shouting angrily at one another, waving their brooms across the alley. Dr Johnson pointed at the women: ‘Those two women will never agree’, said the great man, ‘because they are arguing from different premises.’

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 23. Think of a Number

Peter Mandelson once said that most people don’t understand statistics or, if they do, they think that they are bullshit. He had a point. Half of British adults do not have the mathematical skills expected of an 11 year old.1 Numbers just don’t work for a lot of people. I’ve worked with high-profile people who regularly confused millions and billions, even in press conferences: most of the time, the journalists didn’t notice either. Research shows that the brain is only capable of processing seven bits of data at a time.2 Nevertheless, so many modern leaders think you’re not leading effectively if you don’t have a never-ending blitzkrieg of stats up your sleeve.

Simon Lancaster

Chapter 24. Brevity

Oh yeah. That’s it. Keep it brief.

Simon Lancaster

Epilogue

T.S. Eliot said that the end of our exploring is to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.1 So let’s return to the two images that started this book: on the one hand, the disillusionment apparent in the Red Lion in today’s leaders; on the other hand, the sheer joy and elation shared by 250,000 Londoners in Hyde Park in summer 2012.

Simon Lancaster

Backmatter

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