She had to do something right now. Her management said so.
A young, vibrant leadership candidate was getting feedback that she needed to show more “leadership presence” and watch being apologetic in front of customers. Sales were on the line. What to do?
Digging in with her during our initial communication coaching session, I introduced the idea of “Playing Actions”.
“Is that like an action list, things you want to get done?” she queried.
“No, but that’s important,” I encouraged. “Playing Actions comes from actors as they are experts in structuring compelling action. It’s figuring out what you do to people, how you treat them. And then adjusting the action to help you and your audience get what they want.”
What you DO to someone? How you TREAT them? Actors?! Well, (with a quick eye roll) she was pretty sure she does just fine with that as she’s been told she is engaging and quite successful. Still, she listened through her defense.
I talked about leaders with whom I’ve worked and observed. What is it about those with the most influence and presence? What do they do to others? Is there some common thing they do? If I could just capture this and bottle it….
It’s….in their…assuring smile. That’s it! How else to describe it? So, one who has an assuring smile (a twinkle in their eye, too) engages, leads, influences…well, they quite simply ASSURE their audiences that the work can get done and that all will be ok! And, they certainly do not apologize!
“Have you thought about ‘To Assure’ as the action you play with your customers?” I asked.
Her eyes locked on mine and took on an intense focus. What do you mean, she glared, which morphed slyly into a wry smile followed by a slow, confident nod.
“I can do that,” she assured through the glare.
That one action, in addition to two other things she crafted—a key thought, and a physical delivery adjustment—prompted her manager to write, after observing the change in our emerging leader at the next customer event:
“She was confident, mature, not looking for approval, but working to earn the approval of the audience.”
Mainly, our young leader-in-the-making Played an Action, “‘to assure”—one she could do, right now. It was already in her somewhere—it just needed to be brought on her stage with her audience.
Playing Actions is the essence of the great Actor (that’s you!), the great communicator (you, too?). What Actions are in your repertoire? And what are those yet to be discovered?
It’s your stage. Your performance. And, you’re on!