Three Reasons Why Business Leaders Fail to Use Their Bully Pulpits

August 12, 2014


A “bully pulpit” is simply an excellent platform from which to share an important (and often moral) message. You don’t need an actual pulpit in a church or chapel to be in possession of one. President Theodore Roosevelt, who coined the term, used the White House as his bully pulpit.

Today’s business leaders have bully pulpits, but they’re less likely to use them than politicians or religious leaders. Here are three reasons why:

1. They have difficulty assessing their public standing. Business leaders know the power they wield in their own organizations and within their fields/sectors. They don’t know, however, if their power translates to a far greater and wider audience. That’s why they usually don’t seek out opportunities to address the public (unless the event clearly serves to promote their organization).

2. Time is short. It’s hard to rationalize spending time on matters that don’t relate directly to the business, unless it’s personal time spent with family or friends. Unfortunately, when leaders do have more time (after they’re retired), their ability to exert influence has usually diminished.

3. Some leaders feel like they don’t have anything earth-shattering to say. They look around and see people who know far more about the issues of the day, so they defer.

These are all valid reasons, and yet business leaders are often able to motivate their coworkers to achieve remarkable results. These leaders can and do deliver compelling, moral messages. And they usually have more public standing than they realize.

If you’ve built or led a business well, don’t be afraid to take the stage if you feel like you’ve got something important to say–even if you feel like others can and have said it better. Very few people get the opportunity you have to be heard and make a difference. Use it. This is how you move from success to significance.

Have you earned or built a bully pulpit? Are you maximizing the opportunity you have created for yourself? If not, what limiting belief is holding you back?

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