Over the last few days, I’ve been developing a speech writing workshop which has involved trawling through videos on you tube to find a range of public speakers that my group can study.
In trying to get gender and political balance, I’ve had to look particularly hard for footage of women. My search eventually led me to watch some clips of Mhairi Black and I couldn’t help thinking what a great leader she is. So what does she have that makes her stand out? What is it that gives her authority and makes people want to support her?
Well, the first thing is that she commands attention. When she speaks, people listen. She’s given some great performances lately and that makes us want to hear more.
The next thing is that she comes across as standing up for people and raising issues that matter on the ground. The speeches I watched were about pensions and Trident in which she highlights the negative impact of policy decisions on constituents. She really seems to care about the issues and doing the right thing for people.
What she does very cleverly is draw comparisons with things that everyone can relate to. For example, in her speech on pensions, she talked about mobile phone contracts which made the pensions issue that is so real for the WASPI women, something which felt real to everyone listening.
And she’s inclusive. She tries to bring people together by setting out her vision and inviting others to join her by focusing on the issues and transcending political boundaries.
All of this from the youngest Member of Parliament in the House of Commons who also happens to be female and a proud LGBT rights activist. Challenging every stereotype there is around politicians, you can’t help wanting to be just like her making her a fantastic role model for others.
All of these things together, I would argue, make her an excellent example of the authentic leader we hear so much about today. She has a real sense of honesty and integrity that instils confidence.
I think it was Tony Benn who said ‘if you say what you believe and believe what you say’ you can’t go far wrong and this certainly seems to be true in this case and a truth I think all leaders would do well to keep close to their heart.