A study was done to test the subtle qualities of great leadership. A conference room was filled with many people from all walks of life. The audience was informed that two groups of three different people were to address them. But they were not told about the profiles of the people and the message they were to deliver.
“Just follow instructions”, they were told.
The experimenter identified two groups of people – group A was composed of the most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs, and group B was made up of seasoned managers and frontline staff. These were told to provide a ten-minute talk about career success to the over 200 people in one room.
The results were fascinating.
First in was group A, which had three top leaders. Those no one in the audience knew them, they made an instant impact. They started by profiling the audience. They wrote three placards: with different words.
For aspiring entrepreneurs. Do you want to start your own business? Join me.
For aspiring business executives. Do you want to become a director or board member? Join me.
For Generalists. Want to make the most of your current skills? Join me.
In the first 5 minutes, the group divided themselves into three groups of about 60 people each. Each leader then asked them respective five questions to answer to find their mojo and win. Hardly did the speaker ‘force-feed people’, they help the people discover themselves. In no time, the ten minutes were done, as the audience was still yearning for more. However, the five questions which each of the leaders had given to the group to answer on their own helped drive the point home: before you give any solution, first understand the context. Take time to do self-discovery to identify your passion, and what it takes to win.
Then, the second group made of managers was brought into the room.
These managers divided the 10 minutes between themselves, each talking everything they know about management to the group for 3 minutes. The presenters focused on explaining the management tools like having a strategic plan. A budget. Hiring the right people. Reading books. Etc. Much as the advice sounds good, it is generic, and anyone could have said so.
The difference is usually on delivering the audience-appropriate information based on context. We are always advised never to speak everything we know about the topic. The focus should always be on them, not us.
Leaders approach the same challenge differently. Their focus is on context. They ask more questions than they talk. That is what makes a difference.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.