LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
I had one of my favorite rideshare experiences returning from a business trip last summer. My flight was delayed, affording me a few extra minutes. I decided to “carpool” with other travelers heading from downtown to the airport. My driver was grooving to her rock music when I climbed into the car. We picked up two tourists at the Fairmont, a luxury hotel featuring live jazz music every night. As we darted for the airport in our white Toyota Prius. She said, “I would love to perform at the Fairmont.” Then, she turned down the radio and burst into song!
After singing the last refrain, she explained, “I feel comfortable singing in the car, now I need to move to the stage.”
As leaders, we also have a stage –boardrooms, elevators, parking lots, phone calls. Some are more formal than others and yet, everyone is watching! Here are a few tips borrowed from stage performers:
- Acknowledge Others: We’ve all heard the relentless list of people being thanked from the stage. With a bit of reflection, the list of people playing a role in our success also becomes lengthy! Formal displays of appreciation are not always required, but letting “other performers” know you are grateful for their contribution is!
- Know Your Audience: Traveling musicians have been known to greet Californians with an unexpected, “Hello, Chicago!” Groan!! You gotta know your audience. Like the emerging leader watching you ignore the traffic signs in the parking lot or the co-worker sitting within earshot of your lunch conversation. Leaders are on display, setting culture and reinforcing desired behavior. A weak moment taints a leader’s reputation and could lead to #3.
- Handle Hecklers: According to SpeakerHub, hecklers can actively interrupt you (with an unexpected rant) or passively disrespect you (by using a smartphone), most notably on “the stage”. Don’t allow either type to distract you. Rather, manage your emotions, acknowledge with kindness, and request the behavior (unsolicited comments or texting) continue after the presentation.
After the other two passengers disembarked at the international terminal, the driver quietly said, “You know, I could make it as a singer. I need just one person to believe in me.” I began to gather my things and I said, “The one person who needs to believe in you? Is you!” We continued in silence, had I said too much?
Finally, I pointed out the window confirming my airline. Shutting the trunk, I wheeled my luggage up to the open passenger-side window. I bent down and with a wave, I thanked her for the ride and the song. That’s when I saw tears streaming from under her movie star sunglasses. She choked out a sincere “thank you” in return and bid me farewell.
What would it take for you to move to the big stage?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting Christians in leadership around the globe for the purpose of Community, Accountability, and Transformation. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.
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