Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

Maybe the best leadership speech you’ll see

morrisonStaring down an outrageous scandal that’s been brewing for years, Australia’s Head of Army, Chief Lieutenant General David Morrison last night told members of the forces what’s expected of them, and that if it doesn’t suit them, they should “get out”. The hairs on your neck will rise.

Why is it so powerful? There are three reasons.

Leadership. Morrison is in charge. He owns the problem. This is about US, WE’VE got people doing US damage. Weak leaders reach for the ‘bad apple’ defence, or distance themselves from the wrongdoing. Not this one. He’s telling his forces that we all know what’s been happening and every one us is shamed by it. A military leader speaking against the men under his command is startling.

Clarity. He looks straight at us. It’s a minute before he blinks. He is uncompromising, the words and sentences are short, the language blunt.
“I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values…
If you’re not up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters.”

Conviction. Morrison is furious, as his tight jaw,  unflinching gaze, and  pressured inflection tell us. Nothing beats authenticity. This is intense, he means what he’s saying.

But there’s more to his genius.  Morrison says directly to  the infractors “If that does not suit you then get out”,  but in a way that allows the good ones to feel they’re with him, on side.

At the same time, he reminds those good people they don’t get away with this either: “Every one of us is responsible for the culture and reputation of our army…If you become aware… show moral courage and take a stand against it… The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.

Finally, he  connects with what the Army is, what it stands for.  The modern, new, army that includes women who have “proven themselves worthy of the best traditions…. “

By the time he  closes there’s no place left to hide. He’s talking to everyone, and if you’re not with him, you’re not Army.  “If we care about the legacy left to us… then it is up to US to make a difference. If you’re not up to it … there is no place for you…” .

Truly, an impressive speech.

Here is General Morrison discussing the issue on Lateline last night.

3 comments on “Maybe the best leadership speech you’ll see

  1. cranstonholden
    14/06/2013

    He takes responsibility and holds them accountable.

  2. Pingback: The Most Charismatic General Ever? - Forbes

  3. Pingback: Information Bites – probably the most Charismatic general Ever?

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