The gregarious Chief Executive bounded in the room and immediately took command. Not by force, but rather, through an uncanny social influence, interpersonal warmth charm and a superior sense of self and comfort in his own skin.
On the face of it, the welcome reception granted by this gathering of strangers was anything but guaranteed. The CEO, in this case, was much louder than everyone else in the room. He was dressed more casually by far, having donned a suit coat but with his socks still rolled tightly at home in his top drawer. He even had an arresting - but actually, quite endearing - way of cracking himself up.
The CEO couldn't say more than a few things without punctuating his own speech with a chuckle. Soon, he was entertaining the entire room. He was, at the same time, funny, self-deprecating, and quite particularly at home with himself.
The mystery of it all was that he fit in among the fine suits and business attire, quite perfectly and quite uniquely. Dressed as something of an outsider betraying an all too casual first impression to match, this CEO combined personality with wit, humour with serious business dialogue and humanity with the often staid work of business in our times.
Upon entering unfamiliar territory, business leaders often focus on their image and spend too much time worrying about the right thing to say and to whom. Perhaps that's why the above-cited episode was so memorable, and so authentic.
If we are all truly ourselves in the company of strangers with no hesitations and no worries about decorum, couldn't we all move to the business at hand the possibilities of new friend-making faster and more efficiently? Shouldn't we spend more time being ourselves rather than covering who we really are?
There is a simple power and immediate social impact on others when leaders demonstrate personality. It rises to another level when its intent is grounded in nothing more than a commitment to be oneself.