Coke, cliché and Cristiano Ronaldo
The power of breaking a pattern
- While the world debated how much value Cristiano Ronaldo wiped off the value of Coca-Cola by expressing a preference for water at a press conference, we spotted a leadership lesson.
- Humans are wired to tune out consistent patterns. It’s why you can still concentrate in a noisy café with a wheezing laptop. Consistent patterns get ignored. They’re communication kryptonite.
- Football communication is full of consistent patterns – they’re called clichés: “game of two halves”, “the lads gave 110%”, “no easy games at this level”…
- So when someone breaks a pattern – by bypassing the clichés of press conferences – they’re introducing unpredictability to a predictable environment. And it’s impossible to ignore.
The lesson for leaders: You know what the clichés are in your sector. Be brave about breaking them and you’ll command attention.
Bringing YouTube to the C-Suite
Faster, rougher, more informal
- In the past 18 months, as every leader has had to get used to communicating on video, what counts as compelling has changed.
- Leaders like consultancy boss Christine Armstrong are embracing the aesthetics of YouTube into the way they get messages across.
- Rather than smooth, conservative, and carefully scripted, videos are fast, upbeat and edited with jump-cuts.
- This is the dominant aesthetic in online video, and it’s resetting expectations, especially for younger employees.
The lesson for leaders: On video, what you lose in polish, you gain in authenticity. Consider where your balance is.
The $140m communicator
It’s all about the pitch
- It’s been a good summer for Harry Stebbings. Six years ago, the 24-yr-old Londoner started a podcast about tech investing to pay his mother’s medical bills. This month he raised $140m to make investments of his own.
- As a communicator, Harry excels at using varied pitch to engage his audience. Listen to the ups and downs of his delivery at the start of this recent video.
- Compare that to the very first episode of his podcast. Flatter, more monotone and much less engaging. He’s been practising.
The lesson for leaders: Practise using the full range of your voice – for your audience, it’s a powerful shorthand for passion, energy, and commitment.
Keir’s tears for Piers
It’s not what you’ll do, it’s why you care
- “Boring”, “awkward”, “uninspiring”: Keir Starmer has struggled with his image since taking over as leader of the UK’s Labour Party last year.
- A longform interview with the pugnacious Piers Morgan was a risk, but it paid off. It gave Starmer a chance to focus on why, rather than what.
- By unpacking his life story – from his humble origins to the pain of losing his father – Starmer was able to place his politics inside a story. Much more memorable than a manifesto.
- Check out the full interview here.
The lesson for leaders: You can’t argue with anecdote. Invest time in preparing stories and examples that help explain why, rather than what.