I played golf with Tiger Woods a few weeks ago.
…actually I didn’t, but I did have the opportunity one evening to play my french horn in one of the leading orchestras in the UK, alongside their horn section. This, I tell my friends, is a bit like going for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.
A few things struck me. They played really loudly (and quietly). Their confidence and rock solid ability inspired my confidence. They really knew the music inside out. They had strong opinions on what they thought of the conductor, who as a guest conductor, seemingly had not won the hearts and minds of the players (well the horn players at least). They bantered with the other sections (standard practise in an orchestra!). They were really nice blokes and had some great stories. They were incredibly encouraging and supportive and empowered me to lead the desk.
It reminded me of some great leadership examples from business – the time when as a graduate entrant I was given time to share my views to board level; the various mentors I have worked with; when the CEO personally called me to provide support to an initiative I was working on; the opportunity to sit at the board table and observe; the time when during a high-level meeting to discuss strategy, the MD asked me to propose my ideas (I was the most junior), and they were universally accepted; and how the greatest leaders have that ability to make you (personally) feel important.
It reminded me to make time to hang out with the guys you look up to and always be open to learn; and similarly make time to support and empower those who may be aspiring to be like you.