This past weekend, the calendar turned from 2021 to 2022. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and consider the opportunities yet to unfold. A collective ritual to learn about a wide range of happenings from the past year, including blockbuster movies and celebrity deaths. As 2021 closed, two such celebrity deaths captured our collective attention: Betty White and John Madden.
John Madden is well known for his times as an NFL coach and broadcaster. People invited Madden into their homes during NFL games and played Madden’s namesake video game. Similarly, Betty White spent decades on television screens in shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland. Her Snickers commercials, SNL hosting debut, and cameo appearances have kept her at the center of popular culture. Across generations, people consider Madden the voice of football and White as their hip grandma. Take a moment to scroll through your social media feeds today. You will see images of and quotes from both of these celebrities.
People felt connected to White and Madden.
Human beings seem almost hard-wired to follow celebrities, investing a great deal of their energy to learn about their favorite actors and musicians. And, if they don’t know something, they scour the internet to find the answer.
I have no particular problem with people following celebrities. However, I would encourage you to recognize that there are people in your very presence who you know less about than the celebrity on your favorite TV show.
Here’s your chance as a leader to consider how connected you are to those you lead. Ask yourself:
– Do you know their stories?
– Do you understand their passions?
– How familiar are you with what interests them?
– Can you explain what they want to do in their life?
– What impact do they hope to make in the organization? Community? World?
I encourage you to do a bit of a ‘celebrity’ interview with those in your midst. Pick 2-3 team members and interview them in the coming weeks. Ask questions, listen to their answers, figure out how you can connect to what they’re passionate about, what their inner voice tells them to do, and where their talents lie. Use this week’s video and tool to guide your interview as you get to know your people better.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.