How Does a Leader’s Moral Vision Influence their Speeches?

Christopher Witt —  March 18, 2014

The moral vision of leadersWhat is a moral vision?

Do leaders have a moral vision? Should they? How does a leader’s moral vision differ from a strategic vision?

And how does that moral vision play out in their speeches?

moral vision is a leader’s sense of what matters and is meaningful, of what has value and worth, of what deserves respect and attention.

It is rarely articulated in any explicit way. Leaders may, themselves, be only vaguely aware of having a moral vision or, for that matter, of what it is. But it influences, informs, and inspires their every decision and action. 

A strategic vision identifies an organization’s desired future and how it plans on getting there.

It involves values, both in regard to the ends and means for achieving those ends. It is meant, although it often fails, to inspire and motivate. It is invariably hammered out, clearly defined, and promulgated. (You can find it on most corporate websites.)

Whether or not leaders know what their moral vision is or are able to define it, it is on view every time they speak, in what they say and how they say it.

Do you have any doubt about Donald Trump’s moral vision? About what he values, respects, and attends to? Would you confuse his moral vision with that of Pope Francis?

So, back to my opening questions, and the three that I haven’t answered:

Do leaders have a moral vision? Yes, they do, whether they know it or not. 

Should leaders have a moral vision? A better question is, should leaders be clearer, more intentional, about the moral vision they already have? And the answer to that question is yes.

How does that moral vision influence their speeches? In every way possible.

Their moral vision shapes what they talk about. Determines the stories they tell and the moral they draw from those stories. Reveals their passion, dedication, and commitment. Influences and motivates, resonates with or repels their audiences.

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

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