The Oscar-tipped The King’s Speech is a great film but also highlights valuable lessons for communicators - with its story centred on the relationship between King George VI and his unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue and how together, they achieve extraordinary results.
Here are six lessons for communications consultants from The King’s Speech:
1 Work as a partnership of equals. The best results come from two sides, aligning themselves to their common interests to achieve their goal. At the very beginning of their relationship the consultant recognised that deference should not get in the way of addressing their common task, and insisted he should be called ‘Lionel’ rather than Mr Logue, and in turn, he should call the King by his affectionate pet name of ‘Bertie’. By working as equal partners it helps to create optimum synergies. If it were an equation it would read: 1+1= 3.
2 The consultant needs to insist the working relationship is on their professional terms. In addition to getting his client to use Christian names, the consultant was equally insistent that the training had to be done at his premises and on a daily, not weekly basis.
3 Be brave and be prepared to walk away. At the outset Logue took a high risk strategy of ‘take it or leave it’ in offering his services to the future King. He stood to lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Yet, he recognised how he might get over the first hurdle but ultimately would fail if he did not stand by his professional principles. How often do consultants fail to heed the early warning signs of potential problems with their clients and remain afraid to take the tough decision if necessary?
4 Look for causes rather than addressing the symptoms. Rather than address the evident manifestations of the King’s speech impediment Logue examined for deeper root causes to the King’s ailment. By doing this, in spite of initial client opposition, he could make a real difference. The client is not always right. Sometimes they may shy away from real causes of a problem.
5 Accept sometimes you have to say ‘sorry’ and on occasions you may need to make up. The film portrays the disagreements between the client and consultant and how they row and fall out. They could have easily stubbornly gone their separate ways. The recognition of the value each brought to the other overcome personal pride. Inevitably, in any dynamic client/consultant relationship there will be up’s and down’s. The best relationships are bigger than the disagreements which may sometimes upset them.
6 Be there for the critical times. When King George had to make his epic war-time speeches rallying the nation in its darkest hour, Logue was there at his side, ensuring in the most important times for his client he was at hand.
You too can enjoy the success of Lionel Logue. You may not have a King as a client, but they will hopefully respect you royally.