Those of us in the speaking business are fortunate. We get to travel, stay in hotels and present to people from many walks of life. Oh yeah, we get paid too. The hours, weeks and months of creating and preparation plus rehearsal and fresh topics are expected by those who hire us.
My peers understand “the biz” and the difficulty in obtaining gigs. The not so secret- secret that motivates the crap out of us comes from a source we rarely discuss outside of our industry.
That right. We do what we do because you like what we have to offer. The programs, keynotes, breakout sessions, books, consulting and more are what connect us at first. However, as presenters we understand that the real payoff is the connections we make.
One on one or in small groups we learn from you. You teach us. We listen (which isn’t always easy for a speaker) and we grow as people, you and I. That’s the pay off!
Leaders make or break a company and its staff as I found out again at a recent conference.
Jean came up to me after a presentation in tears. Her friend was consoling her. She’s a strong leader and I hit a nerve, her friend explained. I suggested that the three of us meet later in the lobby to chat.
Me- “So Jean, you’re looking better. I mean…,”she stopped me.
Jean- “I’m so sorry, but my boss at work is driving me crazy. I’m sad, so sad because I love what I do. I’m been there 12 years and am thinking about leaving.”
Me- “Can you elaborate? What’s he/she doing that sucks so much? Let’s break you of this SAD.”
Jean- “IT DOES SUCK!!! She’s not responsive to emails, slow as molasses to move on anything and takes FOREVER to make a decision. I have a staff of 25 that this directly affects.”
Me- “You’ve talked to her about this-yes?”
Jean- “Ad nauseam, Scott. Look, I understand you can’t fix this. I was hoping that you had another perspective like you mentioned in our general session.”
Me- “Thank you for stating the obvious (we all gave a much needed chuckle) I’m no expert, but I’ve seen and heard of difficult situations like the one you’re in. Who can you confide in that you wouldn’t think to approach? They don’t have to be in the same department as you. Someone who does not pop into your mind right away may be the key.”
Jean- “Dan in Accounting is sharp, has a dry sense of humor and at my same management level. Plus he’s heard about some of the difficulties my department has been facing from others. I suppose we could have lunch off site.”
Me- “Low key and hush-hush.”
Two months later I received an email from Jean which said:
Scott, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Dan and I did have lunch and he suggested that I involve the senior VP before things got worse. Reluctantly, I did. Remembering what you said about facing fear head on helped. My manager had some upper level discussions and things are better. Not perfect, but I’m not thinking about leaving!
I was honored to assist her in my small way. Jean did all of the heavy lifting.
Leadership form and style is a personal thing. Keeping good employees is critical for company and staff. Losing them costs money and time. Plus, if one person leaves it can cause others to do the same.
Active dialogue between employees is important. Management should strive to keep communication open, honest and productive. Motivating and encouraging retains good employees!
Breaking sad is a must!