One of my favorite sayings is an adaptation of a Dale Carnegie quote: “You will accomplish more in the next two months, developing a sincere interest in two people than you will accomplish in the next two months, trying to get two people interested in you.”
This has been my experience, not just in my personal life but in my professional life as well. Many of you want to be leaders, lead people, to make a difference. But you might be spending too much time self-marketing and not enough time researching, building bridges by taking in interest in someone. It’s natural for us to do this, we want to get the breaks or network—and to us it is all about awareness and opportunity.
This is the wrong way to see things. It is not about getting discovered. In true leadership situations, where a good coach/visionary is called for, listening comes before arm waving.
Do you know what you have? Are you dialed in to the gestalt of your company's culture? Do you know what your frequent business contacts are WILD about? If there was a favorite song amongst your troops, do you know it? I bet you wonder what music has to do with business leadership, don’t you? I’ve learned that sometimes the quickest route to a relationship is a mutual interest.
Music is an incredible opportunity to do just that, because it can sell itself to anyone with an open mind and a song in their heart. I mean it. Anyone can be converted to respect your favorite band or song. And it makes you feel better about you, and them in return.
Coach Mack Brown on the Texas Longhorns knows this. He loaded up his IPOD with hip hop and hard rock last year, and came to like it. Some say it may have been the breakthough between coach and players in a system that required trust – which is usually an act of reciprocity. He realized that the power of his connection with the players would determine the execution of his offensive system (Give the ball to Vince).
In a USA Today article, he was asked as to why he took the time to load an IPOD (given to him as a gift) with the music his kids listened to, he replied: “I needed to do a better job of looking into these kids’ lives and learning more about what’s important to them…When we were kids, shoot, they were talking about elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash being rebels. Cussing. They’re ruining our music. Now we’re all saying some of the rap music is so vulgar and so awful that they’re ruining our music. But they’re no different. It’s just the times. And what I needed to do, I thought, was do alitter bit better job of staying up with their times.”