The four essential ingredients of a powerful point of view
People trust the motives, judgement and competence of leaders less now than just five years ago. They see so many failures, so much media criticism, so much apparent focus on ruthless profit, and they hear so much logical argument about what is good for business and growth, what is good for the organization but not its publics, and so little about how good leaders are good for society, that they have come to believe that most leaders are exclusively self-motivated and therefore not to be trusted.
Winning trust is essential to effective leadership, but people will not trust those they do not feel they know. To convince people to your cause, you need to let them know more about who you are, what you believe in, what you stand for and how you see the world. In my view, this has never been more important. Yes, you need logic and facts, but you especially need passion and conviction in today’s transparent, hyper-critical world.
Expressing your beliefs is therefore a crucial part of a convincing point of view.
It is all very well talking to your beliefs, but people will still be suspicious if they feel you are simply speaking empty words. They need to be convinced by your actions too. You don’t always have time to let people see your actions speaking louder than your words, so you have to give them evidence of your behaviours, and link those behaviours to your beliefs.
Your behaviours need to be expressed in a potent POV, alongside your beliefs.
All behaviours have a consequence, so your behaviours need to be beneficial if people are to be converted to your cause. You need to explain how your beliefs drive your behaviours, and how your behaviours deliver benefits – benefits specific to the people you are addressing.
If you are able to express these elements powerfully and concisely, you have a strong POV – but now you need one more element: the call to action. After all, the reason you are expressing a point of view is to convert people to your cause and influence their behaviours. Unless you specify the behaviours you desire, how will they know what to do?
POV = BBBA (BELIEF, BEHAVIOUR, BENEFIT, ACTION) (See Figure 12.1.)
It means being certain about how you think, about how you see the world from your position, what you believe as a consequence, how these beliefs drive your own (or your organization’s) behaviours, the benefits derived as a result, and how you think others should behave.
A powerful point of view is one of the most important tools of inspirational leadership. As I have said, leadership is often about taking a stand. This means being courageous and speaking up about what you believe in, and persuading people to your cause so as to get them to act differently.
Speaking out on what you believe in shows your followers that you have a moral compass and are worthy of their trust. It gives them the confidence to follow you. As a leader, you are going to have to stand up and give your point of view time and time again. A powerful point of view generates trust: it shows people where you are coming from and allows them to align with you.
Too few leaders think about developing points of view, yet when well-articulated a point of view can help you win friends and influence people, and gain a stronger voice in shaping the future. Once you have them, they are liberating: you will be able to use them on all sorts of occasions and you will look for occasions to use them. Leaders should be talking to important issues more often, with more transparency, more conviction and, yes, passion. Having a point of view is an inseparable part of building a personal brand and determining what your leadership will be about, what issues you will lead on and even come to champion.
It’s what others are looking for and why they will listen when you speak.