Be a Leader in Two Seconds

The more you’re respected the less you need to say and the more power you have.

You can earn respect while you’re speaking if you speak with compassion, integrity, and competence.

People feel compassion when your words align with their needs. People see integrity when they believe you’re speaking for the good of others. People see competence when you answer challenges with selfless finesse.

A tiny sentence spoken by a respected person powerfully changes things. For example, two words composed of 6 letters – “You can” – both, energize and enable.

It takes less than two seconds to say, “You can.”

I’m scheduled to call Doug Conant CEO of Campbell’s Soup – January 2002 to July 2011. He’s widely heralded for turning around Campbell’s during its declining years. Doug’s book, TouchPoints, advocates for the power of brief, carefully structured, highly focused exchanges.

Sometimes a few words spoken in a few seconds make all the difference.

Last night, I watched Doug’s 12 minute video, “My Most Memorable TouchPoints.” In it, Doug explains how ten brief encounters changed him. He lists 10 phrases – 59 words – that made all the difference.

  1. You can do better.
  2. Welcome to Minnesota.
  3. Give it all you’ve got.
  4. You should look for another job.
  5. I’m so proud of you.
  6. Your job has been eliminated.
  7. How can I help?
  8. He never knew when he was licked so he never was.
  9. I’m here.
  10. How is your pain?
Five final words:

You matter. Your words matter.

Speak with compassion, integrity, and competence. If you do, regardless of your position, title, age, gender, or race, two words describe the result – you’ll lead. (Does a contraction count as two words?)


What brief encounter changed you?

What short expressions do you use to encourage or challenge others?


Come back tomorrow to learn from Doug Conant.


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