Leadership at the peak – Traits of a phoney speaker

By George W Nyabadza

THIS business of leadership development and motivational speaking can really put one on a false pedestal of superiority.



ans-serif”>I remember sitting through a seminar with one guru, or so he had portrayed himself, and really feeling mentally abused. Instead of being uplifted I was instead being gradually sucked into a whirlpool of self-pity and self-doubt.


Fortunately, I can tell a phoney when I experience one. Having said that, I must quickly point out that this particular one was a master of disguise. I couldn’t tell from his crafty advertising that he was a phoney, but halfway through the morning session of the one-day event I had a distinct feeling that something was terribly amiss.


While the speaker was ranting and raving about success, goals and power, I looked around the audience and very few were caught up with the show. It was clear that the magic wasn’t working. Tea-break was looming and my mind was made up. I couldn’t subject myself any more to this abuse.


I made good my escape, after of course having my share of the golden cookies and coffee and as I moved towards my car I was amazed at the number of people that were also leaving. I estimated them at around nearly a quarter of the audience. I walked past a small group that were obviously angry at the lost investment and the lack of sensitivity of the speaker.


I wasn’t the only one who felt abused. The speaker was obviously a talented person and many bought into his brand of motivation.


What put off me and others who I suspect have been on the personal discovery journey a little bit longer was his sense of absolute superiority and strong condemnation of the very life process or struggle that I have been through to bring me to a stage where I realised I needed more knowledge on how to get the best out of myself.


To say that any person’s life process is irrelevant to who they are and should be ignored completely is to violate a fundamental spiritual law that demands the creator to “give us our daily bread”. In other words, let us experience life so that in that very process we may know the reality of the truth and power within us. So when the speaker danced on stage and declared that anyone can be whatever they want to be and that any lessons learnt in the past are irrelevant, something within me screamed an emphatic no.


The speaker’s argument was that his model of life and reality was the only one that could free me to be all that I desired to be. By challenging me to ignore my life history and the process and struggles I have been through as I escaped the cocoon of limitation and mediocrity that I had become accustomed to, he unfortunately, revealed his own lack of understanding of the key process of personal development.


Everyone’s model of reality is the correct one for the simple reason that all my life experiences have created for me filters out of which I view the world. At any given moment my model of reality or life is all I have available to me. I can’t discard that simply because someone says it’s wrong. The difference between the speaker and Martin Luther King Jnr, an orator who could sway thousands of people from different backgrounds, was the ability to recognise the uniqueness of each person’s model of reality to respect it and then through powerful persuasion, pace and lead them to his own model of reality.


That’s the key to creating rapport and influencing others; pace and lead, pace and lead. So I lost some money but I learnt enough to warn you to beware of phoney motivational speakers.