Last night I stood third row from the stage to witness the guitar genius of Plini. His intricate, effortless playing is a wonder to behold, fingers moving effortlessly to create incredible jazz-rocksoundscapes. He launched right into his first number and continued through four songs before approaching the microphone. We had been waiting so long to see him…what would this guitar god say?
“Yaaaaaaay,” was his opener in a completely flat, dull tone. The crowd went nuts. He explained, “I watched a video about Calgary with this cowboy thing you have going on and I thought there’s no way I can pull that off, so I went with ‘yay.'” Right. “Yahoo” might have sounded odd coming from this reserved Australian.
It was the complete opposite of what we associate with successful bands. There was no arrogance and he came across quite humble.
We came to see Plini play. He did that masterfully. But we also wanted a personal connection that went beyond what we could have witnessed on youtube. And in a total of three minutes of talking across the entire set he did that, too. No charisma, but a few jokes and anecdotes to enable us to feel a bit closer to the artist and deepen the level of respect.
I coach leaders whose main connection with their people is through email, running their teams from behind a keyboard. When it comes to employee interaction they believe it is faster to send a note than pick up the phone.
Leaders may impress with their skills and ability to get things done, but it takes a lot more than a memo to inspire high performance. People need connection. They want to feel a part of a cause, and that takes direct interaction.
When artists leave the stage to slap hands with their fans…when CEOs fly up to Ft. McMurray to meet with employees impacted by wildfires…when VPs meet directly with frontline workers to ask their opinions…that is what makes for connection and inspiration. Charisma is not required. The right recipe includes presence (being there), authenticity (representing your true self), and a desire to listen openly.
Changing Your Mind
When was the last time you took each member of your team for coffee? How often in the past week did you pick up the phone instead of sending another email?
The challenge: Every day this week replace one email with a phone call. I guarantee you will get responses faster, with greater clarity, and notch up stronger relationships too. I’d even bet you feel more energy at the end of the week.
You may not feel you have the charisma for inspirational communication. You don’t need it. Just reaching out can be inspiring in itself.