As a leader, you are always on stage. There’s no hiding.
As a leader, all eyes are on you. People are watching you. They’re watching your response and your reaction. They’re watching what you do and listening to what you say.
They’re listening to your language and the words you use. They’re picking up on your non verbals as well; your tone of voice, eye contact and body language. They’re looking for cues about what you believe in, your values and who you are as a leader.
I was reminded of this a few months ago. I was on a plane going to a legal conference. For those of you who know me well, you know I like to talk, so if I’m on a plane and the person sitting next to me is up for a chat, then I’m all in.
On this flight, as soon as I sat down, the guy next to me, started asking me questions; where I was going, what I did for work and we ended up talking for the whole two hour flight. We talked about business, our careers, our beliefs, what we love about our work. It was such a great conversation and time just flew by (pardon the pun).
I arrived at the conference later that afternoon and attended a couple of sessions. That night, there were welcome cocktail drinks. (Always by favourite part of any conference!) One of my colleagues grabbed me and introduced me to the managing partner of a national law firm.
She said to him “You should really meet Midja.” And he replied, “Yes. I feel like I already know Midja.” I asked “Have we met before?” And he said “No but I was sitting in the seat in front of you on the plane this morning. I was going to put my headphones on but when I started to listen to your conversation I was intrigued and just kept listening.”
Oh my goodness. We both started to laugh. Well, his was a laugh, mine was more like a nervous giggle, as I tried to remember everything that could have come out of my mouth during that 2 hour flight! Sometimes I have a lot to say….Hmmm
This was a reminder to me that as a leader, you never know who’s watching and who’s listening. Therefore, at all times, it’s important to choose your words carefully, whilst remaining real and authentic to who you are and your values and beliefs. You need to be clear on your messaging and consider the impact your words and actions have on others. I was always told that when talking about someone else, imagine that the person you’re talking about is standing right there beside you.
When you’re a leader, you are always on stage. There’s no hiding. Every time you talk about yourself, your business, your people or your clients, do so in a way that you would be happy for absolutely anyone to hear.