Category Archives: Lessons in Leadership

Praise Effort – Not Achievement

Praise motivates. Praise encourages. Praise inspires.


Depending on the approach you take, praising an employee can actually have the opposite effect. The difference lies in whether we assume skill is based on innate ability or on hard work and effort.

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Are You an Influential Communicator?

Presentation Maestro

One of the few people that consistently come to mind, when I ask participants at my workshop who they thought was a great speaker, would be the late Steve Jobs. Make no mistake about it, hate him or love him, he did set the stages he graced alight and abuzz whenever he took to it.

Many people wondered if it was just the “Mac” factor, the undeniable success brought forth by line of sexy and elegant gadgets that Apple has come to be known for.

Or was there more?

Continue reading Are You an Influential Communicator?

Body Language in Action: Assertive or Aggressive?

Gestures: To Point or Not to Point?

This is one of a series of articles written in response to the action taking place in Singapore’s General Election.

The aim of this post is to share with you lesson on public speaking – the good and bad – from Singapore’s potential representatives in parliament.

Please note that I do not know most of these people personally, and so any criticisms of their speaking styles or perceptions of them on stage should not be seen as an attack on their personalities.

It’s my hope that my evaluations could help you in your growth and preparation for future challenges too.


Singaporeans who have been following the election rallies online would’ve seen several speakers in action. Some have commented that some appear and look sincere. Others commented that some appear high handed and aggressive.

I’ve had the chance to review some videos, and found a couple of examples, of how body language (and tone of voice, but we will not talk about that for the time being) contribute to the overall perception of a speaker and the impressions he gives others.

To help you gain a clearer understanding of what I’m talking about, have listen to the following speech for the text and content, and review it by watching the full video of the speaker in action.

Excerpt from the First Minute of Speech
Young voters of Sembawang

This is an important election for you

This is.. this election is about which party you trust to secure a better future for you

This election is about which party you think is more capable of doing the good job for you

And this election is about which party you want to achieve your dreams

As a young person 

I stand here today more excited and more optismistic about our future than never before

We stand here at the starting line of life

With a very good pair of running shoes

Now, let’s review the same speech and speaker, but with visuals of him speaking. Observe the difference: Continue reading Body Language in Action: Assertive or Aggressive?

Coming Soon: Speaking Lessons from Singapore’s General Election

Courtesy of Tribal DBB and Brandtology
Singapore General Elections 2011

Some of you may know of  it. Most of you are involved in it. That is if you are Singaporean, that is!

A battle is raging on our usually peaceful and restful nation. The General Election fever has hit our sunny island, and the battle for the electorate’s votes have been raging like wild fire!

And with the benefit of social media, and with sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, the action is brought even closer to voters, of which I am one of too. Indeed, social media has brought about a certain air of change, as voices from various camps are much easily heard during these GE, as compared to yesteryears.

Whether those voices will be well received by the electorate, and whether they will translate into votes is anybody’s guess. More importantly however,  not only do we get the opportunity to witness our potential elected representatives in actoin, we too get an opportunity to review and assess their individual speaking styles in action.

Yes, and that means the good stuff… along with the bad.

I will evaluate various speakers in action. Not so much of the things that they say (I’m no expert on politics and policies), but on the way it was pitched, their use of voice, body language, and the ways they were structured in delivery. The main aim is to share with everybody lessons that we may all learn in our quest for personal development.

Do note that I do not know most of them personally, and so any criticisms of their speaking styles or perceptions of them on stage should not be seen as an attack on their personalities. It’s just a general assessment skills, of what are potential  public figures in the future.

Hey, these people will be judged and assessed not just by the locals, they will be seen by the whole world too if they assume higher office too… and it’s my hope that this post can help you in your growth and preparation for future challenges too.

The first post is coming up soon. Watch this space!

Your Public Speaking Coach,

Gary G



Click here to join the Shy Speakers Guide on Facebook!


Related Post:

1) Body Language in Action: Assertive or Aggressive

Leading Competently with the Language of Leadership

The role of a leader is to lead. Sounds like a no-brainer huh? What is a leader if nobody chooses to follow him?

I was once told by my platoon commander when I was serving the Singapore Armed Forces that “the biggest fear a leader is to look over his shoulders and realise that nobody is following him”.

That day was the last day I left the camp and green uniform behind. But the words have stuck with me since.

In essence, it truly highlights the principle that “A Leader is only a Leader when there are people Following him”, and that a Leader is nothing without without his followers and supporters.

That begs the second question then: Why do people follow anyone else?

There are several reasons for this. But without going too deep into philosophy and/or sociology, I think that people generally follow somebody else’s lead because it is perceived that the everybody can get the job done in a better fashion.

Mind you, this does not naturally mean that the hearts and mind of the people are won and that they would follow somebody wholeheartedly. Seldom do we see something like that happen.

The power of leadership may come as a “natural endowment”, ie, people vest their trust and loyalty upon a leader voluntarily. Others may come as a form of “vested authority”, ie, authority is delegated and the leader is appointed. In effect, you can interpret it as empowerment through democracy and/or authoritative means. Each method has its merits and I won’t go into detail about that.

Yet, like it or not, a leader has to be able to wield an appropriate degree of the various leadership tools that are of both “democratic” and “authoritative” nature from time to time to get their work done.

Having worked with a fair deal of people of who were stepping into leadership roles without extensive experience of handling mega projects prior to their latest appointments, I had a quite a good time observing the similarities and differences that lie behind what makes a competent and experienced leader.

The way they communicate is one such difference. Here are some communication principles that separate competent leaders from inexperienced ones:

Continue reading Leading Competently with the Language of Leadership

Six Speaking Skills You Need For Managing a Crisis

I got the privilege of evaluating an advanced project during a meeting at Tampines Changkat Toastmasters Club this evening. The project was on “Crisis Management”. The speaker was expected chair a media conference and deliver an official statement addressing a crisis that had struck the organization that he was working for. Thereafter, he would be required to chair a question and answer session from members of the media – tough interrogators who are hungry for sound bites and hawkish for answers.

The speaker had to be on his toes and watch what he said – for any slip could further stoke the flames and potentially devastate the company further.

The speaker who attempted this project for the night, Gregory Ernoult, ACB, managed this challenge admirably. In fact, it was such an admirable attempt that it helped to surface a few pertinent points in crisis/media management and prompted me to blog about it (for you) too!

Since it’s close to 4am, and I’m too tired and lazy to think of an alternative structure to share those ideas, I shall proceed simply by sharing the three main areas Greg did particularly well in followed by the three suggestions I thought he could use to enhance his presentation and Q&A. But before we begin, we’ll have to understand the setting for his “crisis” first. Continue reading Six Speaking Skills You Need For Managing a Crisis

The AWARE Saga – Prelude to Leadership Fatalities

Courtesy of Lucious Young
Courtesy of Lucious Young

Those of you who’re in Singapore would be no stranger to the AWARE saga – an event (or some say coup) involving a Civil Society in Singapore that caught the young nation’s attention.

For those of you who are (*ahem*) unAWARE (pardon the pun), of what this is about, you may read on to find out more. Otherwise, you may skip this prelude to proceed straight to the lessons on Leadership Fatalities

Continue reading The AWARE Saga – Prelude to Leadership Fatalities

Leadership Fatalities – 5 Mistakes a Leader Must Never Make!

Image Courtesy of Channel NewsAsia
Image Courtesy of Channel NewsAsia

“The feeling in the room was electrifying. I still can’t get over the fact that we got Aware back. It is a great moral victory.”

– Constance Singam, past president of Aware

You would probably know the story by know. But I’d like to take the analysis of the Old Guard’s victory one step further and examine it under the microscope of communication and the fatal mistakes the New Guard made as leaders – for your benefit of course. (*winks*)

The following are 5 Leadership Fatalities that a leader must NEVER make: Continue reading Leadership Fatalities – 5 Mistakes a Leader Must Never Make!