There’s a scene in the Oscar winning movie Annie Hall that provides an important lesson for leaders. If you saw the movie, you may recall when the characters played by Woody Allen and Diane Keaton go to their psychiatrist because their romance has hit a snag. They appear in a split screen, so we see them in their separate psychiatrist office at the same time. As part of their therapy session the psychiatrist asks them how often they sleep together. Allen says, “Hardly ever, maybe three times a week.” Keaton answers, “Constantly! I’d say three times a week.”
Each experiences the same event, yet they come to a different conclusion.
A perceptive leader recognizes that the most noble vision, expressed in a clear and meaningful style, has a very good chance to be misunderstood.
This can be frustrating. But, it’s also a reality leaders face all the time. The experienced leader knows everyone comes from a different background, with different values, different standards which can contributes to separate agendas.
If your leadership style has a dynamic charisma and you have established a positive relationship with your team, you have a good chance that you can move forward to accomplish your goals.
But beware. It can be even more complicated if you are new in your position or you are introducing major changes. It would be a serious oversight for you not to expect a period of adjustment to you and the new ideas you put forward.
There’s also good news. You didn’t become a leader without some awareness of these individual personalities and deep-seated beliefs. If recognized, these human traits can be a source of strength to build on. If acknowledged, they are weaknesses you can overcome. How you work to conquer the complexities they present will influence your success.
Back to Annie Hall for more leadership revelations. Later in the film, one of the more droll characters utters three words that demonstrate Woody Allen's comic genius for understatement. For the leader, these three words are symbolic of a larger realm. You ignore them at your peril. They represent a metaphor that reminds the astute leader just how personal preferences impact an individual’s judgment and beliefs. These three words get to the heart of how decisions are made. Just three words, but they speak volumes. When someone says them - or their allegorical equivalent - pay attention. Look for them. Respect their significance. Even though they may not seem obvious - even a bit trivial at first blush - they reveal a depth of meaning and often hide their deeper purpose.
So, what are the movie’s three prophetic words?
The three words: "I’m into leather."
Steve Hrehovcik is a freelance writer and artist. His book Rebel Without a Clue - a Way-Off Broadway Memoir is available on Amazon. His website is: www.kennebunkartstudio.com