The neat thing about what I do is that I get to meet and learn from all sorts of people from all walks of life. Whatever my experience, I realize that I don’t know everything and more important, that I still have tremendous opportunity for growth as a leader.
Last week, I was chatting with my seat-mate on a flight and it turns out, he is a highly sought-after television director in Hollywood. He says his phone is constantly ringing off the hook from TV executives wanting him to direct their shows. I asked him why he was in such great demand – thinking he had some technical ability few others possessed. He said that had nothing to do with it. Instead, what he is known for is his leadership ability on the set in dealing not only with the highly paid actors, but also with the people behind the scenes, the grips, the caterers, the a/v guys and the like. It seems they have so much respect for him that they have become a disciplined and cohesive unit that meets or beats the demanding deadlines because they work well together and get it done in one take.
I told him that my impression of a television director is one of a dictator that barks orders to everyone. He told me that there are many out there like that but that the ones who are most in demand these days are the ones who can execute on budget while delivering an excellent product. I asked him his secret and he replied: “on our set, you don’t have to do it my way as long as your way is just as good if not better. What I make sure I do is to create a climate whereby people feel free to tell me their ideas and a climate where I will give them a respectful hearing.”