I met an extraordinary leader this week who shared some powerful lessons he learned while being both a father and a bouncer in a bar. This high-energy young man attended one of my Communication workshops and initially seemed a bit unfocused and outspoken. I remember him participating in one of my previous Leadership programs so I tried to draw on that past experience. I knew he was a well thought of manager so I treaded lightly to see where his enthusiasm might lead. First, he opened up to the class a personal story about his daughter and what he learned from her disability. We then broke up into smaller groups where a second story emerged that was even more compelling. I was astounded and knew he had a great deal to teach all of us in the session.
We began to talk about how leaders show they are actively listening to someone on their team. Most of the managers felt they were relatively strong listeners, including this male participant. He then blurted out:
“I have a daughter who is deaf in one ear and she taught me so many different ways to listen. I thought she wasn’t listening to me initially before we learned of her deafness. But I learned to face her, talk slower, speak more clearly and use a louder voice to make our conversations more satisfying. I brought all those skills to my team here.”
FACE THE PERSON
TALK A LITTLE SLOWER
BE CLEARER IN WORDS AND ENUNCIATION
SPEAK IN AN AUDIBLE TONE
Quite profound and simple. Basic, yet not always done. Sharing his personal story showed us his human side that in turn allowed us to see another side of who he was and what was important to him. We also gained some new insights into “really” listening.
During our break-out group work, the young leader was adamant about telling his group about an important lesson he had learned while being a bouncer in this local bar. He wanted to show another transformation he made:
“When I first became a bouncer, I decided it would be better to be strong and extremely direct with the patrons. I would speak in a loud voice and bully them to leave at closing time. No one seemed to listen and I became so frustrated. There was a more seasoned bouncer there who seemed to be gentler with the customers. He would remind them several times before closing that it was almost time to leave. They all seemed to listen to him so I decided to give it a try- to be a human being and gently announce the closing time. It worked! I learned I didn’t have to be an ogre or loud. I just had to be human.”
SPEAK TO PEOPLE RESPECTFULLY
PREPARE THEM FOR THE NEXT MOVE
BE KINDER AND HUMAN
Once again he transferred these lessons to his leadership style. That is why he is an influential leader.
How do you bring humanity to your leadership? How has sharing your human side helped you become more influential?