The US Presidential elections are heating up. As I write this, Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama are racing towards the Democratic National Convention, neck -n- neck. There is no doubt that this is an historic competition for the hearts and votes of the American public. Most political analysts agree that, in terms of policy at least, there is very little that separates these two Presidential wanna-bees. But, in practical terms... their approach to the race is worlds apart.

Setting politics aside for a moment, I think there are priceless lessons in change leadership being modeled by these orators every night for us on CNN. Washington Post columnist E.J.Dionne Jr. says of Hilary, "she has answers to hard questions, but he (Barack) has the one answer that voters hunger for: He offers himself as the vehicle for creating a new political movement."

Barack Obama speaks of hope, and hope is the one thing that prompts people to believe that change is possible. George Packer spoke of listening to Barack speak to the crowds this way, " Within minutes, I couldn't recall a single thing he had said, and the speech dissolved into pure feeling ...which stayed with me for days." There's something fascinating going on here.

What's happening isn't new. It's been said that when Cicero, the Roman statesman, lawyer, political theorist and philosopher spoke, the crowds declared, "How well he spoke." But when Demosthenes, a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens spoke, the crowds exclaimed, 'Let us march!"

How many executive announcements about some company change have you sat through where the content was - the company, blah, blah, blah, or quality and profits, blah, blah, blah? And, how did these factual, structured pronouncements make you feel?

Ok, so what lessons can we take from the drama that's playing out on the world stage? Here's what I see:
  • People need substance, but the facts are seldom enough to inspire people to act
  • People are hungry for hope - at work and in their personal lives
  • You don't have to have all the answers to inspire confidence and propel people to action
  • Real engagement is an activity of the heart

Whether the thrill of what's possible will trump a battle cry of, having answers to the tough questions remains to be seen. What we know for sure is that how you communicate is at least as important as what you communicate when it comes to engaging people's hearts and minds.

How are your change communication skills? Are you compelling? Is your message to your family, team or organization filled with hope?

If you want to bring your change communications to the next level, call me; I just might be able to help.