Imagine seeing an action movie at a large multiplex theater with 30 screens. You purchase your ticket, find your way into Theater 16, where your film is showing, and sit in your seat. As soon as the movie starts, you realize you made a huge mistake. The acting is terrible, the storyline is predictable, and the stunts are laughable.
Within 10 minutes, you think, Should I cut my losses and leave? Maybe they will let me watch something else instead. Deciding to avoid further disappointment, you finish your popcorn and head home.
A few days later, a friend invites you to see another action film in the same multiplex theater. The movie is showing on screen one, just down the hallway from Theater 16. You reluctantly go to the show, expecting a similar cinematic experience. Over time, you’ve come to believe that every action movie is identical – terrible plot, poor acting, and cookie-cutter stunts.
You settle into your seat, prepared for disappointment. When the movie starts, you realize that this one is different. The acting engrosses you, lost in the story and surprised by how quickly two hours pass. You know that this is destined to be a blockbuster.
The next night, you return with friends to see the show again. Your perception that every action movie is the same has been shattered. You would have no problem paying again and again to watch this movie. It’s just that good.
Let’s connect this action film experience to what you do as a leader.
What would happen if we charged admission to watch you in action?
At face value, that might sound like a ludicrous question, but trust me; it isn’t. Just like there must be something about a movie that warrants charging admission, there must be something about you – your Essence and Expertise – and the unique experience you create for your team members.
Arguably, the best way, if not the only way, to best serve your people is to be the blockbuster in theater one, not the cookie-cutter films showing on all the other screens. Those other theaters offer interchangeable commodities equal in their ability to kill two hours of your evening without providing much value. However, you produce something that stands out from your unique Essence and Expertise and how you employ those qualities to serve your people best.
As a leader who serves team members, you should work to deliver an experience that is so powerful, compelling, positive, and unique that people would pay to watch you do it.
Every day, you write your movie script, play your role, help others to play their roles, and produce that blockbuster leadership film. That’s the movie that stands out. That’s the movie with raving fans. That’s the movie worthy of people paying their hard-earned money to see.
Make it a great day!
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.