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3 Proven Solutions to Find Calmness in Chaos: The Story of a High-Level Executive Speech Part 1

To be transparent and respectful of privacy, the executive's identity is withheld in this article. Nonetheless, the lessons learned are no less impactful.


Background


A speech by a high-level executive was scheduled, with the option of tuning in virtually or attending live in person. This individual is responsible for the work and lives of all who report to her, including new employees, supervisors, managers, and other executives on her level and above. Although her job demands an exceptional amount of time, energy, and mental capacity, she makes it her business to host meetings twice a year.


These structured meetings are designed to communicate the organization's direction and expectations. In order, she thanks everyone for joining, announces awards and recognition, and then closes with final thoughts on the future and organizational growth.


This time was different.


Her speaking structure was the same, but this time, she ended her speech with her personal experiences, struggles, and how she overcame them. She drifted from the podium and sat down on the edge of the stage to be at eye level with her audience. One leg was planted on stage for balance and comfort, and the other was dangling. Suddenly, the executive was gone. All that was left was a woman sharing her experience with a group who experienced the same stresses but in different fashions.


Although her closing speech was not structured with slides, she suddenly became the leader everyone could follow.


“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” - Brené Brown 

As a bystander, she was clearly pulling from beyond her mind into a richer place to relay a message. In public speaking, she is described as speaking from her soul to reach the soul of her audience, as opposed to pulling from the thoughts in her mind to provoke the thoughts of others.  


Vulnerability in leadership refers to the willingness to show authenticity, communicate limitations, and openly express thoughts and emotions (2). It supports building trust and strengthens relationships. The power of vulnerability plays a crucial role in nurturing innovation, driving growth, and creating a culture that inspires risk-taking, learning, and embracing new ideas. 


Her speech demonstrated a leadership style that shifted from a "heroic" individual initiative style to a more relationally based interaction. This inclusive and collaborative inquiry and action strived to boost engagement and promote the strengths of her team in a moment of chaos. Both styles were needed and served the purpose of cohesion and flow.


Many are forced into leadership roles, albeit may not have the title of executive. No matter who you lead or where you speak from, it is what you will receive as the response. Sometimes, operating in a leadership role can add to the stress of decision-making in the midst of chaos, further hindering progress and engagement.


Stay tuned for her 3 Solutions to Finding Calmness in Chaos that made the crowd go silent

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