Great Leaders Dramatize Ideas

By | February 10, 2020

[February 10, 2020]  The idea that senior leaders aggressively promote their people, organizations, and missions is not new thinking.  These leaders also dramatize ideas that are at the core of what they do.

Years ago, in 1964, Italian journalist Luigi Barzini, Jr. wrote the popular book The Italians.1  In his book, he delved deeply into the Italian national character and introduced many readers to Italian life and culture.2  Barzini was an independent and influential journalist in the English-speaking world and war correspondent who covered world events.  He was a regular feature who would entertain others to advance the way of life of Italians.

William F. Buckley, Jr. was another leader who dramatized ideas; this time for the U.S. conservative movement.  He had a flair for the theatrical, posed as a striking figure, he was good with words and possessed an entertaining personality.  Buckley could convince any person of the righteousness of being a conservative in only a few seconds.

Like Barzini and Buckley, everyday leaders dramatize ideas.  How else can one convince others of the way forward?  To unite people around an idea is no easy task.  It takes an extraordinary personality, one of supreme confidence, an air of respectability, and high virtue of doing so.  That is what leaders should do despite many leaders being somewhat deficient in this particular skill set.

I’m reminded of the Fort Dix, New Jersey garrison commander many years ago when a Major General still ran it.  The garrison commander told me one day that his job was to be a cheerleader for the garrison, and that brought many new duties to his position.  Those who came before him had ideas about the expansion of the post but had failed to implement any of them.  This commander went everywhere with his message that Fort Dix “might be small but our customer service is unparalleled.”

Anyone who dramatizes ideas, people, community, or business has many available tools like social media, networking, speaking engagements, and seminars.  Yet, it is the personality of the one person in the lead where responsibility rests.  All the best tools in the world are meaningless unless the right man or woman stands behind them.

As the United States enters its final 270 days of its presidential competition, it has already become clear that only a few have the skill to dramatize their ideas.  Trump and Sanders have it.  Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg don’t have it.  The former two are authentic, unapologetic, and both inspire and motivate through their words.  The latter three are intelligent and secure in their convictions, but none of these have that special touch to clarify even why they are running for president.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Great Leaders Dramatize Ideas

  1. JT Patterson

    Good article so thanks, Gen. Satterfield. I never quiet thought of this the way you write about in this blog post. Appreciate the twist on an older idea.

    1. Doug Smith

      That is why I keep coming back to this leadership blog. You get a sip of leadership every single day and the site is also entertaining. Thanks to all those who also make comments. These are helpful in detailing what is written here.

  2. Len Jakosky

    You should, as a leader, dramatize ideas like others have said but you should also make sure that your ideas are “good” ideas to begin with. If an idea is bereft of usefulness or, indeed, plainly bad, then dramatizing the idea will only emphasize that the leader is an idiot. Just look at how the Democrats dramatized impeachment for Pres Trump and how the Democrats looked stupid when it was all over.

  3. Harry Donner

    The lesson to be learned: Dramatize your ideas in a unique and novel way and you’ll win people to your way of thinking. From Dale Carnegie.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Telling a good story is the key. These ideas (in the article you linked to) is a great start. Use your imagination, use your smarts, use other people’s ideas. Get off your butt and get your ideas out there. That is what makes a difference in a leader leading people and a college snowflake in the basement of his parent’s house.

  4. Tom Bushmaster

    Incidentally, “Dramatize Your Ideas” is Dale Carnegie‘s principle #11 for winning people to your way of thinking. Why is it so important? According to Carnegie, “we live in the days of showmanship.” It’s not enough to tell why your idea is best, you have to use flair.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Tom, I agree with you and thanks for pointing out Dale Carnegie’s principles. Yet, drama doesn’t change the facts. It personalizes them. Lack of drama can undermine your message, the way my boring presentation slides used to undermine my solutions. So when you find yourself with a point you really need to make, think how you can infuse a little drama!

  5. Max Foster

    When we want to make a point, we need to tell a story. The story will stick long after the facts have been
    forgotten. We need to learn to be weavers of tales and demonstrators of ideas. More can be said in a
    story or an example than we could ever say directly. That’s because a story or dramatization involves the
    listener or observer.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      YES! When I read, listen, or watch, I’m always looking for types of examples and illustrations that are the most effective dramatizations of the message I want to convey in the future.

  6. Lynn Pitts

    Words alone will not win people to your way of thinking. You need to use word pictures or actually
    demonstrate the idea for impact. This means being creative (at least a little bit anyway). ?

  7. Ronny Fisher

    It takes more than having great ideas, a leader must be able to communicate those ideas boldly.

    1. The Kid 1945

      I agree Ronny. Boldly AND accurately AND clearly. All these matter a great deal.

    2. KenFBrown

      Good comment. Ronny, I too think that many leaders are “pathetic” and yet they still have the potential. I say, stop being pathetic and get out there and at least try to be ‘bold’ and ‘authentic’.

      1. Eric Coda

        Yep, at least start doing something to better communicate. Now we know that there is a need for the dramatization of ideas. Starting bad is at least starting.

    3. Valkerie

      Yes, and General Satterfield has done us another favor by highlighting an important idea.


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