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10 Things Successful Leaders Never Say

10 Things Successful Leaders Never Say
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Being a successful leader requires being a very tactful and persuasive person. Every successful leader has the ability to influence others to perform. They must be able to rally people through their own consent instead of forcing them to do things. History tells us that leadership through force does not last. Napoleon Bonaparte is but one good example of this. Long lasting leadership means showing care and understanding towards followers, through both actions and words. General Montgomery said “My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”

1. This is all your fault!

A successful leader is never out to blame others. They willingly take responsibility for their mistakes and failures. As Winston Churchill said “The price of greatness is responsibility.” If they tried to blame subordinates for bad results they wouldn’t be leader for long. They also understand that playing the blame game is a waste of time and won’t help them find solutions to problems. Henry Ford once said “When one of my cars breaks down, I am to blame.”

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2. I’m in charge here!

A successful leader should never have to remind people they are in charge. By doing this they undermine themselves as not being a true leader. They are trying to lead by force, by reminding people of their authority. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill said “The efficient leader leads by encouraging and not by trying to instill fear in the hearts of his followers.” Successful leaders don’t have to remind people of their titles or ranks. They will demonstrate leadership through all of their likable qualities and positive results instead. They don’t need titles.

3. We don’t need any more ideas

A successful leader is constantly looking for ways to do things better and more efficiently. If anything they will reward people who come to them with better solutions and ideas. They willingly put their pride and ego aside for the greater good. Henry Ford said “Everything can always be done better than it is being done.” There is always room for improvement. Successful leaders never criticize people for trying to do things better.

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4. You’re really bad at this!

Successful leaders would never directly insult someone. This will make followers lose respect for them and reduce morale. Andrew Carnegie said “Young people should be taught, very early in life, that no amount of schooling will insure their success unless they learn to negotiate with others pleasantly.” Tactful communication skills are one of the most important qualities of successful leadership. For example, before criticizing someone you should give them a compliment first. Criticism should always be done in a graceful way.

5. I’m too busy for that

This is a really broad generalization, but successful leaders should be efficient. If a leader is so disorganized and unproductive that they can’t make time for new plans, he openly admits his inefficiency. Napoleon Hill said “No genuine leader is ever “too busy” to do anything which may be required of him in his capacity as leader.” If they literally don’t have time to do something important, they will find another capable person to do it.

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6. As long as you aren’t breaking the law

Successful leaders know that you reap what you sow. Every corrupt or unethical transaction you make will come back to you in some way. A business that is not built on justice will not last. Andrew Carnegie said “In every profession, and every business, and every occupation there are ways to make money through unfair practices, and I must confess that there are individuals who are willing to earn money unfairly; but all of them are surrounded by hazards which, sooner or later, dry up the source of income or bring with it evils, if not losses, out of proportion to the gain.” Gary Vaynerchuk said “Money and Fame don’t change you, they just expose who you really are.” Successful leaders would never intentionally comprise their values for financial gain.

7. I only want to hear the good news

A successful leader isn’t afraid to hear the bad news. They want to find out about it as quickly as possible so they can start fixing the problem. They know that procrastinating and avoiding issues won’t solve them or make things better. Arnold Glasow said “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”

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8. I can’t solve the problem

Successful leaders have good imaginations. They are innovators. They continually absorb information that will help them in some way and surround themselves with capable individuals who are good at what they do. They must be able to solve emergencies and create plans that can be carried out efficiently by other people. Brian Tracy said “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” Successful leadership means knowing how to solve problems.

9. I wouldn’t want to do your job

A successful leader wouldn’t ask anyone to do a job they wouldn’t do. Nelson Mandela said “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory, when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” Andre Malraux said “To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.” Being a successful leader means serving others, not taking advantage of them.

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10. I hate reading

Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Warren Buffet says “It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” Applied knowledge is power. Successful leaders willingly prepare ahead of time to prepare plans that are faultless and avoid repeating the same mistakes of others. They know that organized plans and specialized knowledge are two essential qualities of success. All too often today we take for granted the wealth of information offered to us through the internet and books.

Featured photo credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/Sgarton via morguefile.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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