This weekend, I presented as a college speaker at the National Orientation Director’s Association (NODA) Northeast conference on leadership, and the theme of my talk that really resonated was: as a leader, “be interested, not interesting.”
When we think about great leaders, we tend to think of great orators. But that is not really leadership in the real world. Leadership is most often interacting with individuals, not thousands of people at a time.
This means that a great leader must be able to connect with people on a deep and profound level. There is no better way to do this than to be interested rather than interesting.
I was recently on a plane to Houston and I sat next to a man named Bill who had spent his entire career as a high school teacher. I was genuinely interested in his experiences and advice. Therefore, I just kept bombarding him with questions. He seemed to be enjoying the interaction, so I just kept going. By the end of our flight, I had told him nothing about what I do or who I am–nothing.
As we were exiting the plane, he stopped me and said, “Marc, I just want to tell you that you are one of the most special guys I’ve ever met.”
I hadn’t even told him anything about me. My genuine interest in him is what made him feel so connected.
Try this in your next interaction: pretend that the next person you meet has answers to questions that you really want to understand. You will really enjoy yourself, learn something, and impact that person positively.
Have you ever met a leader that was simply interested in others above self? If so, please share below by commenting!
Written by Marc Wayshak, College Speaker.