It’s Your Record, Not Your Rhetoric

Occasionally, I seize the opportunity to have my morning coffee (Dunkin Donuts of course), while watching one of the morning news shows.  In general, I find most of the morning shows dreadful, but I have started to get hooked on former congressman Joe Scarborough’s “Morning Joe” show.  Scarborough seems to try to have a reasonably balanced discussion on the topic of the day and today one his guests was Tavis Smiley.

First of all, anyone that does a lot of interviewing in the workplace should pay attention to people like Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley.  They really know how to have a conversation.

But today, during a discussion on Ezra Klein’s piece on Presidential speeches in the New Yorker magazine, Tavis Smiley used the line “it’s your record, not your rhetoric” that counts.  How profound!

Leaders in business must keep that in mind when giving speeches.  A number of years ago when I was working for Boeing, the CEO at the time, Harry Stonecipher, was forced to step down amid a personal relationship scandal.  This followed a scandal a couple of years earlier by the then CEO, Phil Condit.

The reason this is relevant, is that the Boeing Company was in the midst of an internal public relations program on the importance of integrity!  It wasn’t lost on our employees that our leaders rhetoric did not match their record.

Motivational speeches are wonderful and they certainly have their place, but if your words don’t match your deeds or as Tavis Smiley would say, your “record doesn’t match your rhetoric,” you might just as well be spitting into the wind!

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