Leadership Lessons From One Celeb

I warn you now. Despite the fact I’m a 42 year old banking vet, I still have fanboy issues (although not in the Kathy Bates kind of way).

As some of you have noticed, I was very pleased to have Chris Brogan comment on my blog recently. Not only did it feel super cool to have a celebrity nod at my work, but there was the really, really awesome upsurge to my blog numbers that went along with it. I totally told all my friends (okay, okay, I squealed about it into the phone like a 15 year old girl: SQUEEEEEE!!!).

I read a lot about blogging, and how to make myself better, and tonight I was on ProBlogger poking around when I came across this article by Tom Meitner of The Practical Nerd. He shares a similar story about a positive result from introducing himself to Mr. Brogan. In the comments section of the post, Tina Winterlik writes,

Chris Brogan is a super nice down to earth person, you can see it in his videos, But not only that I replied to one of his newsletter emails recently and he replied right back. And when I mentioned “Gee Thanks” for replying, He said “But of Course.” So he definitely knows how to make you feel like he’s there and he’s listening. His advice is also very supportive.

NRRRRRRRRRRRRRD!Okay, okay, we all love Chris Brogan. What does this have to do with leadership?

Well, after reading Tina’s comment (and leaving a comment of my own that boiled down to “omg omg i KNOW rite!”), I thought back to a few of the really good people I’ve worked for over the years. As a project manager in various capacities, I really didn’t want someone breathing down my neck. Once my projects got underway, I turned into a juggernaut. As some managers learned, if you got in my path, I might accidentally run you down.

But here’s the thing. While I didn’t necessarily want my management getting in my face, I still wanted them there. And not just in a formal status review kind of way. Don’t get me wrong…it’s my nature to want autonomy, and to build and struggle and overcome on my own (it’s a trait that makes my family want to wring my neck). But periodically I wanted to be able to look behind me and see my management there, quietly supporting me, or nodding encouragement. I wanted to know that if I really ran into trouble, they’d be there to help me deal with whatever roadblocks I couldn’t quite lift on my own. I wanted to know they believed in me.

Whenever I had that, I felt I could move mountains. Their confidence in me increased the confidence I already had in myself. The irony of that was, I barely needed to lean on my management at all.

As a leader in my own right, whether as the VP of a bank, or a delivery manager for a consulting firm, it’s a behaviour I’ve very much strived to emulate. You don’t need to get up in people’s faces. You don’t need to stop people in the middle of their busy day to tell them about your open door policy. You just need to actually be there for them when they turn around.

Reading Tina’s comment I thought to myself, you know what, that’s what Chris Brogan does so right. He’s just there, and that’s why we think he’s groovy.

< / end nerd rave >

PS: Chris, if you wind up reading this, I promise I’ll never ask you to sign my boob.

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
  • Elizabeth

    Chris Brogan and ProBlogger are great. Isn’t it funny who we end up getting excited about. I met Andy Murray (PRINCE2 incarnate) and felt very star struck in his presence. This is probably the first and last time I will confess to being star struck by project management people – it will do nothing for my street cred!

  • That’s an awesome story, Elizabeth (although I must admit it makes me laugh). It really depends on the circles you’re running in. When I tell non-bloggers “Chris Brogan commented on my blog” and get a look on my face like I’m about to pee my pants, they usually just blink at me and say, “that’s….uh…great…”

    However, I can completely appreciate your story about meeting Andy Murray and if you told me that over coffee I would jump up and down with you! 😀

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