Why being serious doesn’t mean being intelligent

 In Mindset

Recently in a cafe just off the lobby of a Sydney office tower, I was having a coffee before a sales presentation workshop. I noted how serious all the senior executive corporate types looked as they bought their flat whites and machiattos. It seemed liked they had the weight of the world on their shoulders.

On further observation and reflection it seemed like ‘projecting seriousness’ was their default presentation of themselves to the world. Like they had worked out that being serious means people will think you are competent or intelligent. (or maybe hide how scared you are, so people won’t find out that you aren’t that competent or you aren’t up to the task of your current senior role).

Whether you agree with the premise ‘Serious doesn’t mean competent or intelligent’ or not, to me it’s a sad situation for the people who report to these senior executives. (and I’m not suggesting that these executives don’t have significant challenges in their roles). The executives are providing a poor model for their reports who aspire to their role. They’re teaching and modelling, that looking serious is the way to get ahead and keep your senior executive role. So these future executives will start becoming serious themselves to fit the mould.

Effective leadership is about being forward-looking, honest, inspiring and competent – not about projecting a false seriousness. In a surveys* covering the last 20+ years, of the top 20 characteristics of admired leaders, across a wide range of countries, ‘being serious’ doesn’t get a mention. (*please see Kouzes & Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge).

To combat this false seriousness, and for the how to apply for this post: In the next seven days, on purpose aim to take a professional attitude to your job while you lighten up about yourself/your presentation of yourself to the world.


p.s. The below list of all the services and products you can buy from me might interest you:

–       Sales presentation consulting (this is for mid to senior level sales professionals).

–       Effective spoken messages (a five module process for I.T professionals, and for members of other professions).
–       Senior executive personal communication coaching.

–       Business pitch consulting.

–       Key note speaking (popular topics includes: ‘Projecting C level executive presence’; ‘Listen and speak under pressure; ‘Becoming a leader: Strategies for developing a leadership identity’.

–       Conference speaking coaching (this service helps clients notch-up their audience impact in large group speaking).

–       ‘Hot-house’ laboratory – Effective spoken messages (this intense process is for clients that have under gone first level personal communication development work with me).

–       Winning the first 75 seconds – job interview, coaching (as you may know 70% or more of interviews are won from how a person enters the interview room, handles and seats themselves and ‘owns’ space; and how they answer the first interview question. This service helps candidates nail that 75 second, opening segment).

–    From Doctor Clinician to Doctor Executive (this process helps doctors make the transition from presenting themselves as a clinician – to handling, conducting and presenting themselves as a doctor executive).

–       ‘Choice Voice. Lessons from great speaking voices. Edition One: Bob Carr‘, MP3 download.

–       On-demand skill development modules (these eight minutes modules accessed from the Premium Area of my website include: How to handle a senior executive chance encounter; How to open a pitch in a board room and How to open a one on one meeting with your boss).

Please contact me if you’d like to discuss any of the above Services and Products at:      michael@kellyspeech.com.au or in Australia by phone: (02) 9416 2311.

Thank you.
michael k.


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