“Professional” may be over-rated

"Bitmoji" image of me presenting.I had a blast at the OHIMA24 conference last week. My Change Leadership talk on Tuesday morning was, without a doubt, the best I’ve ever done (and I’ve been giving that talk for years).

I’m not basing that opinion only on my own experience (I’m not that egotistical!). I’m basing it on audience response, during and after the presentation. And, yes, on how much fun I had!

Here’s the curious thing, though: it was also the least “professional” I’ve ever been on stage.

I’m a rule-follower. I’ve been called “rigid.” And I worry too much about what will people think?! I’ve suppressed my sense of humor, and even edited out “too many” exclamation marks from my writing.

But I learned something from this experience: being more me, which means being less rigidly “professional” and more playful, is more fun for me and my audience, not to mention more useful.

I’ve known forever that when people laugh, they’re learning. I also know, from watching other people’s talks on stage, that memorized, scripted presentations may be word-perfect and may have good content, but they don’t light up the room.

What does all this mean for leading change? (Has to come back to that, right?)

Leadership is an individual practice. We all have to find our own ways to use the tools. I had a couple of audience questions around this – one asked if the tools I teach land differently for different genders, and one asked about generational differences.

My answer was, maybe, and maybe not. Because what really makes things work is how we adapt the tool to our own individual style and to the person in front of us. Rather than make generalizations about genders or generations, think about who you are, and who each individual is.

We all have our own style. Finding it, and then living it, is a lot of fun.

(I wrote a LinkedIn article on the gender / generational question, which you can find here.)

Curious about the Change Leadership tools? Drop me a note through my contact form and we’ll set a time to talk.