I’m sitting in an airline lounge at LAX, and I’m reflecting a bit on my week as I wait to board a red-eye flight back to Indianapolis.
I just finished co-facilitating a single day training session with my friend and colleague Kevin Eikenberry that was part of a longer four-day training program. As we spoke with the participants, we heard about some of the other skills they were learning, and we encouraged them to look for ways to integrate what we were teaching with content from other parts of the program.
We suggested that they study the overlaps and connections between the topics so that they could develop the ability to easily move between different situations and work with different people effectively
As I reflect on this experience and think about getting back home to practice my guitar, I see a direct correlation between my guitar practice and the development of mastery as a leader and communicator:
The secret to mastery is in the transitions.
As I said when I wrote about the difference between doing and mastering, much of the work to become really good at something comes after you learn the initial concepts.
On the guitar, I now know how to make my left hand do the finger positions to do a number of chords, and I can play them acceptably. Sometimes I can move smoothly from one finger position to another. Other times I struggle. Guitar master’s know how to transition smoothly from one finger position to another so that the sound is smooth and melodic.
A similar thing is true for skillful leaders and communicators.
Different situations call for different behaviors. Communicating the same message to different people might mean using different approaches.
Masterful leaders and communicators know how to read the situations and people around them and how to smoothly move between different leadership approaches and communication styles or modes.