Berger Leadership Blog

Feb 11, 2022

The Mark Twain Rule

Have you ever been faced with an amazing opportunity for your organization, but could not figure out the best way to get your team excited for it? In a recent Inc. article, Bill Murphy Jr. introduces the “Mark Twain Rule” and how emotionally intelligent people can use it to be more persuasive.

In short, the rule highlights the importance of brevity when leaders communicate. It stems from a famous quote of Twain’s: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

As leaders, coming up with a good message for those in your organization takes time. However, truly crafting a message, editing it, and ensuring the message is efficiently tied to your ultimate desired outcomes is worth the time and thought.

In the article, Murphy gives a brief example: “You’re considering a wonderful opportunity for your business, but you also face challenges. You're excited and you want to get your team excited. How would an exceptional leader go about it?”

The average leader would gather the team and explain why it's such a great opportunity for the company, and tell them why this specific opportunity presents a chance for everyone to pitch in together and rise to the occasion.

The emotionally intelligent leader, however, frames it from the point of view of his or her team:

  • what the opportunity means for everyone together;
  • what it means for individual contributors; and
  • what's specifically needed from each person to reach the goal.

The hard part is that it takes more time to think from multiple perspectives to craft the right message. On top of it all, you have the challenge of being brief. But, when done right, you also get the benefit of being far more likely to achieve the ultimate goal – with support from your team.

In conclusion, as leaders with a mission to progress our organizations further and capitalize on opportunities, becoming aware of both our emotions and other people's emotions and then leveraging both to make it more sound, logical decisions toward achieving the ultimate goals will prove most beneficial in the long run.

Learn more about leadership and growth at NAFCU’s upcoming Strategic Growth Conference, happening March 21-23 in Greenville, S.C.

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