Leadership in Three Simple Words by Molly Fletcher

Molly Fletcher

20 May 2016

Can you put your leadership message into three simple words?

The best can.

That impressed me recently at 2016 Leadercast, the largest one-day leadership event in the world. Well-known leaders summed up their best ideas for raising the standard of leadership across our businesses, communities, and homes. You don’t have to have a ‘C’ in your title to benefit from their wisdom.

These speakers and their six takeaways showed why “three” is a key number in communications. The simplicity and power of these messages make them stick.

1. See the Power

Make your point with strong visuals. Kat Cole, Group President at FOCUS Brands, inspires her team by showing (not just telling them) what is possible. Sometimes that means taking a leader to another market where their goal is achieved with fewer resources so that they can see what’s possible. Kat values seeing the power of possibility because she did not see it herself until she was in it. She was raised by a single mother of three and was the first in her family to go to college. Much to her mother’s dismay, Kat dropped out of college for a job. Over a few short years, Kat was able to work her way up from waitress to corporate at Hooters. (And she went back to college!) At age 24, she attended Women’s Foodservice Forum and recalls the hundreds of female executives in her industry in business suits—something she never thought of as possible. Seeing the power makes it real and attainable.

2. What’s Important Now?

Nick Saban, the ultra-successful Alabama football coach, spoke about the pyramid of success. Surprisingly, his team doesn’t hear him talk about winning. Instead, he talks about process. About being in the moment. About focusing on what you can control. “Be where your feet are now,” is one of Saban’s favorite expressions. Success is a result of constantly asking ourselves: What’s Important Now? Great acronym, too: WIN.

3. I Owe You

Another one from Saban. When Saban was a kid, his baseball coach helped him get some extra work in after practice. Saban thanked his coach, and Saban’s dad commented, “With every thank you goes an ‘I owe you.’” Nick didn’t understand, so his dad explained that his coach had helped him when he didn’t have to. “I owe you,” meant Saban now needed to give his best effort. I love the way these words claim the responsibility we each have. I used this one with my 13-year-old daughter before tennis practice the very day I heard it from Coach Saban.

4. You’ve Never Arrived

Success can breed complacency. It’s harder to keep pushing when you’re ahead. These three words from Saban speak to the mindset that helps keep you striving and seeking your greatest potential no matter what the messages are around you.

5. Anyone Miss Me?

Size up your value to a team, organization or mission. Imagine that you don’t show up. Would anyone miss you? Why or not? The answer, Saban says, will give you insight on your impact.

6. Clarity Produces Influence

This is from pastor and author Andy Stanley. When asked, “What do we want in leaders?” the number-one answer is integrity. But while we value integrity, we follow clarity, Stanley says. Clarity is how leaders inspire, enlighten and strengthen their followers. Your greatest influence comes from clarity—making your vision stick.

Your Game Changer Takeaway

It’s super hard to boil down your message. When you get it to three words (make one a strong verb), you have a powerful tool for being a leader worth following. Three words are easy to remember and reinforce.


What’s your three-word leadership message?

Molly Fletcher

inspires and equips leaders to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Her new book, Fearless At Work, is now available.

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