There are various schools of thought that categorize leadership styles from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some like to look at ‘leadership theories’ that have focused on what qualities have been distinguished between leaders and their followers. For the sake of keeping things simple, I’m going to throw all that out of the window to explain why I believe Craig Ferguson – late-night TV host and self-described “vulgar lounge entertainer” – is carving out an interesting and funny path on how to influence people.
How else could you explain how hand puppets, fake moustaches and wigs work while jiving around to Duran Duran’s ‘White Lines’…?
Now, I’m not going to go on about how remarkable Mr. Ferguson’s leadership style is, nor am I about to attempt to explain how he manages his people. Because…quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure. The fact that Mr. Ferguson can compel his staff to wear costumes and lip-synch their way through Britney Spears or They Might Be Giants songs not only makes me giddy with glee, it astounds me.
How does Mr. Ferguson do this?
- he leads by example – in the Hey, I Love You skit (much like just about every other intro to each Late Late Show), Mr. Ferguson is the first one to come out to get things started. He sets the tone, inviting the audience to take part in his brand of goofiness.
- he’s authentic – never shying away from sharing anecdotes (and sometimes embarrassing stories) about his battles with alcohol and drug abuse, Mr. Ferguson creates an open space where it’s perfectly fine to share some vulnerability…even influencing an appearance from someone like Betty White to share her experiences as a ‘girl scout.’
- he doesn’t take himself too seriously – from the time Mr. Ferguson was ‘campaigning’ for honorary citizenships from various states across the U.S. to curmudgeonly announcing himself as the new king of late night TV, he encourages his team to be irreverent and fun.
Other late night TV hosts do similar things, sure…but none of em’ really revel in their silliness in such a way that it keeps the same crew coming back as often…to be nonsensical. Not so much to be ‘funny’…but dippy, trippy and dizzy. The fact of the matter is: it doesn’t have to make sense to be right.
As a manger or co-worker, what have you done to inspire real innovation from your team? When was the last time a ‘crazy idea’ fueled something genuinely memorable for your clients? What could you do today to tap into your inner ‘Craig Ferguson’…?