A client company recently conducted a comprehensive executive leadership program, consisting of a full year of seminars, pod work, capstone projects, and one-on-one coaching. To celebrate the program completion, the client asked me to address the participants. I was honored, but there was an unexpected hitch – I was scheduled to speak for 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes? Leadership training and coaching are my passion. I’ve written an entire book describing the specific steps each of us can take to become more effective leaders. My presentations typically last 90 minutes – or, if I’m really pressed, 30 minutes!

However, one point I always stress about communication is that it should be relevant, passionate and succinct. So in preparing for my 15 minute address, I boiled my own message down to these three points:


Leadership is about others. Previously, you may have been recognized for your individual contributions. But as a leader, you will be recognized for the contributions of your team. Your role is to be a servant leader, positively influencing others, removing barriers, and making it easier for them to navigate their jobs and accomplish their goals.


Deliberately or not, the most effective leaders practice “positivity” — they focus more on positive issues than negative ones. Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, in her book, Positivity, describes the ultimate positivity ratio to be 3:1. Keep this in mind as you lead. Your goal should be to communicate at least three positive ideas for every negative one. Your objective is to infuse energy, not drain it.


As a leader, your ability to wield influence and affect the top and bottom lines, is dependent on your ability to inspire and motivate. An effective leader’s communication has clarity, passion, vision and strategy, frequency, and shared objectives.

So there you have it. Lessons in leadership in 15 minutes or less. I elaborate on all of these, including the core concepts of self-awareness, self-control, humility, integrity, empathy, global intelligence, personal stewardship, and performance, in my book Leading: The Way, and would welcome an opportunity to share them with your team through corporate training or of course, public speaking.

Paulette Ashlin’s book, Leading: The Way – Behaviors that Drive Success outlines the importance of responding to, changing, and improving your behavior to become the best leader you can be.  Find out more at www.ashlinassociates.com