I’ve been reading the remarkable story of Derek Paravacini, the fantastically talented pianist who is severely autistic. Born prematurely, totally blind, with an IQ of 50-something, he showed a talent for the keyboard at 2 years old and performed with a symphony orchestra in London at the age of 9.
Not only was he born with an amazing ability to improvise and copy complex music by ear, but his biographer and mentor says that Derek was born with the instincts of a natural performer. So he not only loved performing and excelled at it, but he seemed able to bring his audience with him (in spirit). It seemed that Derek had the ability to inspire his audience to contribute to the excitement of the performance.
Instinctive performer, natural leader
No, I’m not suggesting we all learn the piano!
But it struck me that 3 distinct abilities that Derek had instinctively, without training, are essentials that would benefit every leader, viz :
- The ability not just to give of your best in front of an audience, but to raise your game to new heights when you have an audience
- To draw others into your own excitement
- To inspire exhilarating engagement – so others contribute and co-create with you, raising their game and yours.
The performer as leader
These “natural performer instincts” are needed at work, in business , education and many other leadership fields. And we can develop them.
We know that leaders need to be able to inspire others with their vision. Do leaders routinely aim to inspire excitement and exhilaration? Do we inspire others to co-create with us or do we tell them the vision?
So, I suggest a new leadership objective: engage others so they contribute and co-create exhilarating stuff with you. So the vision and high-quality outcome is one that THEY find exhilarating and exciting.
Can this be learned?
Yes these may be instinctive in some people.
But I am certain the behaviours can also be learnt.
For instance, clients of mine have started as reserved, reluctant – even terrified – public speakers, who at first hate the idea of presenting, and particularly the forced spontaneity of the Q & A session at the end of a talk. Yet with training and practice, they come to love the opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas. Some of them end up seeing the Q&A as a fantastic opportunity to interact with the audience, and enjoy answering the questions.
Behaviour transformation may indeed be the result of regular practice. But many of us won’t do the regular practice without someone supporting or stretching us. And that’s where coaching comes in.
Either way, alone or with help, behaviours, preferences and results CAN change. And that’s exciting and exhilarating, isn’t it?
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I’ve enabled others to find new excitement and momentum at work, or to develop new skills.
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Executive Business Coach and Leadership Communication Specialist Alison Haill is CEO and Founder of Oxford Professional Consulting. Now based in Oxford, she has a track record of 40 years working with international leaders and professionals – across 4 continents.
Alison’s unique approach combines practical Business Experience, powerful Coaching Processes, Neuroscience and Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) with Linguistics and Cross-Cultural experience.