Last month my wife and I had the opportunity to relax and unwind along the Pacific Coast on a cruise. We later discovered that we were on the Princess Cruises Entertainer of the Year ship. For seven days we were entertained by the best Princess had to offer – talk about lucky!
While we were checking in to get on the ship a man turned to us and with a big smile warmly said “hello.” We thought, what a nice guy, but had no idea who he was.
The next night we discovered that this friendly stranger was singer Phillip Browne, who was now onstage singing and entertaining us all with songs like Haven’t Met You Yet, Mr. Bojangles, Unforgettable, Ol’ Man River and the Circle of Life (Browne actually starred in the Lion King stage show at the London West End theater). I could have listened to him sing Nat King Cole songs all night. His performance was exceptional, but that’s not what impressed me the most.
It’s rare to see performers on cruise lines around the ship, let alone sitting down and having meals with passengers – complete strangers. But the morning after his performance, there was Browne, spending time at breakfast with an older couple he didn’t even know, but was quickly getting to know – laughing, interacting and genuinely having a good time. I continued to see him throughout the cruise smiling wherever he was and interacting one on one with passengers and quickly endearing himself to each one of them.
Long story short, on the last night of our cruise, Phillip Browne was crowned Princess Cruises Entertainer of the Year. I connected with him several times – at check-in as I shared previously, on the cruise (see picture above) and at the airport, and he was absolutely genuine and likable each and every time. I believe he not only became a favorite entertainer with passengers, but possibly their favorite person on the cruise outside of family and friends of course.
As you know, I tie everything to leadership. This easy to like performer gave me plenty of opportunities to do so and reminded me of three ways leaders can genuinely connect with those they lead and create people who want to follow them, not be dragged by them.
- Leaders must be present. One of the reasons Browne was so well liked was his regular presence on the ship. You can’t connect with people if you aren’t around people. Leaders must get out from behind the desk and out of their offices and take time simply and joyfully walking around and greeting their people.
- Leaders must smile. I have never seen a bigger more affectious smile than this entertainer’s smile. It wasn’t just because he had a great smile, but that his smile was coupled with genuine connection and care. Are you creating connection through your smile? There are no ugly smiles – just ugly frowns. Smile more.
- Leaders must care. You can feel when someone is less than genuine and they don’t really care. Have you ever had one of those conversations with someone who thought they were expressing care and concern, or at least thought they were fooling you into thinking they cared and were concerned? But you weren’t fooled were you? Take time getting to know people and you will start caring about people.
Whether you are entertainer of the year or a leader of two or one thousand or more, your influence is based on your ability to connect. Be present, smile more and genuinely care – that’s the simple formula to real connection with those you lead.