Today, I rolled my lawn. It was a heavy roller and a tough job, but with plenty of effort, I managed it.
I quickly realised that it was much easier pulling the roller than pushing it. Leading people is much the same. If you push them, you don’t really know how they are going to react. But if you inspire them to follow you, then you have a far better chance of getting them to go where you want them to go.
At TEDxESCP 2012, I had the good fortune to work with Bob Davids, a seasoned American entrepreneur and leader, who gave a talk on leadership, with the potentially controversial premise that you can’t manage people – but you can lead them.
Of all the many great speakers at TEDxESCP 2012, I perhaps worked with Bob the least – partly due to schedules and partly because it was clear from our first discussion that he didn’t need much help. (One of the most important skills of an event coach is to work out where you can make the most difference, and allocate your time accordingly.)
We did discuss one important item. It was clear that he didn’t need any slides for his talk, but I asked whether there were any props he could use. He mentioned that he liked the idea of using a chain, which he picked up from General Eisenhower, and I immediately encouraged him to use that if he could.
You’ll see why in the video below. It helps people to remember one of his key messages. (I won’t spoil the surprise – watch it and see.)
Bob is a master storyteller. He speaks slowly, calmly, deliberately, and with the voice of experience. Young people would do well to listen and learn, as younger people have a tendency to speak too quickly. With Bob, you have time to digest his words and thoughts, work out what they mean for you, relate them to your own experience, and store his wisdom.
It was a pleasure to work with Bob even for a short time, and to watch him hold the audience in the palm of his hand – and indeed I have always subscribed to his vision of egoless leadership.
Watch and enjoy. And then please tell me what you thought about his talk.