Turning the Spotlight on Others

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you reinforce management-employee relations. Reading time: 3:34.

       The Chief Executive Officer is standing on a balcony overlooking the industry’s most comprehensive research facility. A photographer from The New York Times is setting up to take the CEO’s picture commemorating the $111 million facility’s official opening.

Setting up lighting for a photo

Setting up lighting for a photo

      lighting1 reflectorsThe company’s Public Relations guy is thrilled with the national exposure, thrilled to have interested a significant media outlet to come half way across the country to cover this event.

       But suddenly there’s a snag. There’s technical issue with the photographer’s lighting. The photographer asks for time to fix the lighting.

       The PR guy finds himself in an awkward situation: alone with the CEO with no particular meeting agenda, no proposal to be made or decision to be approved. The taciturn CEO was at ease in the silence. However, the PR guy felt the eerie silence as if it were weight on his shoulders.

       But then the PR guy’s own chest began to swell with great pride, thrusting that weight off his shoulders and throwing himself head first into a few minutes of rare face time with the CEO.

       Here was his chance to impress the CEO with some gambit of pithy conversation, some insight into his expertise as the company’s spokesperson, or at least some other side of his personality that would crack the CEO’s wall of silence. But instead the CEO unveiled a more revealing side of his own personality. And in the process the CEO taught the PR guy a leadership lesson in emotional intelligence in general and humility in particular, especially at a time when the CEO was deservedly perched for a lion’s roar in the business jungle after a bountiful hunt in the marketplace. So bountiful that the CEO’s company held a commanding lead in industry sales volume. And now the CEO was reinforcing that leadership grip with an investment in the future.

     But now the focus was on the present as the professional photographer continued to fiddle with his equipment in preparation for the photo of the CEO. Finally the PR guy couldn’t stand the awkward silence, blurting out what came naturally to his publicity and promotion-oriented mind:

“What a great tribute to your leadership
and this company that the
New York Times is here.
The growth of this company in sales and

employees is attracting this kind of national attention.”

     lighting1 reflectorsThe CEO, calm and poised in the midst of all that shower of praise, dead-panned: “What’s the latest number on employees we have? The PR guy smiled. Not only did he know the number but he was now engaged in a meaningful conversation with his boss’s boss’s boss. And he felt very good.

  “A Lot of Families That We Have Fed.”

     But then the CEO donned another leadership hat and assumed another more insightful, more influential, more poignant CEO role: Chief Emotional Intelligence Officer.

      Instead of taking a bow for his company’s meteoric revenues and net profit growth, the CEO inhaled the escalating number of employees now on his payroll as if he were savoring a fine wine. He paused. His eyes widened. Then he said in a matter-of-a-fact style devoid of any personal achievement: “That’s a lot of families that we have fed.”

        Instead of stepping into the spotlight for his bow, the CEO turned the spotlight on the growth of meaningful, high-paying jobs his company produced, jobs that virtually change the lives of thousands of his own employees and lined the pockets of thousands of others in the community considering the rippling effect of those jobs on the regional economy.

      Indeed the CEO had always shared the business stage with his employees. After all, the CEO thought of his own personal success as a reflection FROM OTHERS more than a bright light on himself. No wonder on this day, the photographer’s portable lighting system balked at shining a light on the CEO.

      After all, this CEO –this  Chief Emotional Intelligence Officer– was already basking in the light of his employees.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Focus on Families to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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