Mark Zuckerberg Wants To Know: Why Are Leadership Speeches So Boring?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Mark Hammer 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #177990

    Image via, “Blah, Blah, Blah is What Gen Y’ers are Hearing”

    Writing for CNET, Chris Matyszczyk talks about the new commercial for Facebook Home. He notes that it’s partly a commentary on the typical phenomenon of employees listening to their boring CEO go on and on, writing:

    “In a quite stunning acting debut, Facebook’s CEO shows the virtues of Home and the difficulties of being a CEO. His employees aren’t impressed.” (Full story here.)

    From an advertising perspective I don’t think the commercial works – I’m too focused on the fact that Zuckerberg is making fun of himself.

    But from a branding perspective it might be a good one. The commercial tells me that Facebook represents irreverence – a brand value that I identify with. This might make me more likely to remain a customer.

    If you take away the commercial aspect though, the ad brings a timeless internal communication problem to light. Corporate writers wring their hands about boring leadership speeches all the time – and here is Mark Zuckberberg himself, the leader of one of the most important brands in the world – basically agreeing with them.

    Why is executive communication often so boring? In my view it’s because leaders avoid talking about the real issues clearly – particularly the conflicts underlying those issues – for fear of upsetting the apple cart.

    What can be done to fix it? Probably the recognition that people are tuning out. And that they’re not just tuning out and letting you do what you want, but continuing the conversation around you. If that conversation goes in a different direction than the content of your talk, your influence and then your credibility is undermined.

    Too much emphasis is placed on frontline speeches. The real work has to be done behind the scenes, one person at a time, supported both by consensus and by data to support the leaders’ conclusions.

    Leadership is not a one-person show anymore. It’s about moving a crowd as one. The followers have to be on the same page, but they can’t be on the same page if they’re not listening.

    * All opinions, as always, are my own.

  • #178000

    Mark Hammer

    It depends on the size of the organization.

    The more layers there are between the leader and the brunt of the rank-and-file, the less leadership speeches have anything to do with the daily life and experience of the majority of staff, and the more it has to do with the content of all those meetings that senior management is in on. So, it’s boring because it is not seen as relevant.

    In contrast, if the owner of a mom-and-pop business with 10 employees sat down to talk with staff, you can bet that there would be very little that is NOT of relevance to the employees.

  • #177998

    Jerry Maly

    The real reason they are not productive and are boring is they are not from the heart. Most of the time they are means to take over more control of the other people invilved. I have attended many hours of seminars with motivation, inspirational and leadership and don’t see any of the principles being applied in the work force especially the government. So when the so called leadership holds a meeting there approach has nothing with leadership, motivation or inspiration. It is about ego and power. In true leadership the true characteristic needed is service and I don’t ever really remember witnessing any servanthood.

    Jerry Maly with DOT/FAA

  • #177996

    So it’s seen as irrelevant and it’s not from the heart – what can they do better?

  • #177994

    Mark Hammer

    Be a little more vulnerable. Show what they worry about and THAT they worry. Express curiosity about the front line folks, and show some awareness of them. Talk to the staff, not the investors or any other stakeholders they report to. Avoid any and all buzzwords. Staff are interested in their own workplace, working conditions, and future, not what quickie management books you’ve read in the airport waiting area.

  • #177992

    Peter Sperry

    Drop the sugar coating and try honesty.

    Watch the captains on “Deadliest Catch” motivate their crews toward the end of a long hard season. They almost never start off with anything but an accurate description of the situation. “The weather S–ks, the crab are hiding, your tired, I’m tired, G-d only knows why we are here in such sh–ty conditions” etc. Next they emphasize the obvious. “But we are here and we have a job to do and nothing is going to change that.” Then they present a plan “So here is what we are going to do. We’re going to this spot and drop these pots and pull these others and you will get maybe 3 hours sleep at most over the next 48 hours but it is what is and this is how we deal with it.” They include with hopeful but realistic projections. “I’m not saying this will completely salvage the season but it will give us the best chance to finish strong, go home with our heads held high and maybe put some money in our pockets.” They usually close with a direct challange “So you need to decide if you are or are not crab fisherman because I am not turning this boat around until we fill the tanks and we don’t have room on board for passangers.”

    In short, they violate just about every rule of feel good inpirational speaking while motivating their crews to herculean efforts that usually produce very impressive results.

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