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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Your Leadership Legacy in One Sentence


By now, pretty much everyone has heard of the elevator speech. You know the drill, describe what you're working on, why it matters and what the other person can do to help in 60 seconds or less. I've read lately that the Tweet is the new elevator speech. Can you describe what you're working and why it's important in 140 characters or less? It's all about the idea behind the famous line from T.S. Eliot, "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." It takes time and effort to boil down the essence of what you're trying to do to a short and memorable idea.

In her weekly Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan built on this point by telling the story of what 20th century renaissance woman Clare Booth Luce once said to John F. Kennedy: "A great man is one sentence." As Noonan explains, "His leadership can be so well summed up in a single sentence that you don't have to hear his name to know who's being talked about."

Someone once said that strategy is as much about what you're not going to do as what you're going to do. Great leaders know how to focus and to keep the group's attention focused on the most important things.

If you were to focus on crafting a short sentence that you hope would sum up the essence of your current work as a leader what would it be? While you're thinking about it, take a look at the following short clip from the well known cowboy philosopher Curly for some inspiration (but beware, there's one word in the clip that may not be appropriate in your work environment):

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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