Toxic Goal #5 - I want to be the expert or the guru

There is nothing inherently wrong with working hard and developing a great knowledge base and experience over many years. However, standing on stage or at the front of the class telling people how clever you are and how knowledgeable you are, can create the impression that you spend rather too much time reading your own headlines.

Some years ago, a really famous management guru came to talk in London. This chap is very well known for his achievements as a captain of industry and the author of several best selling books. His introduction was full of his own achievements, the number of books sold, who he had worked with and how difficult it was to find trustworthy domestic staff in California to look after houses while he is away making speeches. After 20 minutes of this I stood up and left.

Was he a good speaker? Well, he could certainly talk. Was it interesting? It was fascinating, but only to him. I attended because I wanted to find out his success strategies. I attended because I wanted to hear about the obstacles he had overcome on his way to the top. I attended because he had a great reputation as a businessman and I was willing to give up my evening to see what makes him tick. I left disappointed. I did not want to hear about how many books he anticipates selling this year, or the incidents with his domestic staff or his battles with his ex-partner about who has custody of their daughter at the weekends. 

Audiences are driven by self-interest. They want to know what is in it for themselves. It has to be relevant to them. Talking to people with respect, humility and empathy will always create a great rapport. If you come across as superior it will drive a wedge between you and them. Focus on the needs of the audience and it is hard to get it wrong.

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