We all know the power of words. When they are delivered with skill, they have the power to inspire us, to bind us together and to drive us forwards.
What, therefore, makes a good leader is his or her understanding of how to make every single word they say count. This year, for example, many Western media outlets have highlighted how effective Ukraine’s President Zelensky is at communicating with his people.
One US TV station described him as “Churchill with a social media account,” honouring another powerful wartime orator, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Zelensky quickly and successfully built empathy and trust with his people after telling US President Joe Biden that he needed “ammunition not a ride” after the war in Ukraine began. It does not matter what anyone believes about the origins of the conflict. What is indisputable is that Zelensky acts as if he is at one with his people.
Good corporate leaders do the same. For words only hit home if employees believe that you mean them: that you not only abide by them but also live the best version of them.
So they are most powerful when they are wrapped around vision that energises the whole company and everyone who works at it. My father has always been a master of this because he has the vision, the drive and adaptability to achieve his goals and the ability to communicate them.
It is one of the main reasons why THP grew from a small brewing operation in the early 1990s to the domestic soft drinks champion that it is today.
My father creates very powerful imagery that is very easy to comprehend. The best advertising executives understand how important this kind of simplicity of thought is.
Paring something down to its very essence is essential to creating a visual image, or a tagline that resonates with its intended audience. It is a real skill.
One famous example, which always sticks in my mind, is how he uses the imagery of a ship to represent THP and the journey it has embarked on.
For example, we all know that the safest place for a ship to be is docked in the harbour. But this is not where it is meant to be.
So the ship will eventually set sail. And when it does, the crew needs to chart a course with an end port in mind. At THP, ours is to be a 100-year old company.
Yet as my father says, “When the boat sets out to sea, it is likely to encounter storms. The challenge is learning to control the boat when that storm comes.”
This is a great metaphor for facing challenges head on and learning how to navigate through them. So while having an end goal is important, so is the need for adaptability and learning by experience along the way.
My father also knows that when the storm dies down, “the grass and trees will blossom and thrive.” This is the point when new ideas germinate and grow, often through learned experience.
One day my father will no longer be captain of the THP boat. He reminds us of this every day and he educates us how to steer it successfully it without his guidance.
This is because our seven core values are the ship’s logbook. We keep them close and we hoist them high on our mast for all to see.
They teach us that if we work together with a united vision based on core values, we can sail confidently through the roughest seas, gaining valuable new insights at each point of the way.