Last Updated on 19 August 2017

One of the characteristics of a great leader–no matter whether that leader is a person, a brand, or a company–is the ability to stay “tuned-in” to the needs of their audience.

  • Is your audience still with you?
  • Do they get where you’re going?
  • Do they have confidence in the direction?

Follow the Leader
Out of college, my first job was at Walt Disney World in Orlando. I was a tour guide at the “Listen To The Land” boat ride at Epcot’s Land Pavilion.

I led Guests on a 20-minute journey through farming methods of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

It was one of the easiest “leading” jobs I’ve ever had. I didn’t have to worry about the pace, the process, or the “pulse” of the Guests on my boat. Disney already figured that out. The boats moved along a track at a pre-chosen speed, through carefully crafted scenes. I simply had to re-recite my 20-minute spiel with a smile in my voice in pace with the different show scenes.

Unfortunately, most audiences are not as captive.

As leaders, we need to constantly check-up on our followers. While you push forward, you also have to look back. The mountain guide a mile ahead and out of view of his pack is worthless. A meeting facilitator, sticking to the agenda with a confused team, has stopped adding value.

Pace, Process & Pulse

To avoid losing your audience, regularly check your pace, the process, and your audience pulse.

Are we going to fast? Is the group feeling rushed? Can they keep up? Or are we dragging, too slow? Are you losing their interest through boredom?

Are you taking them along an appropriate path? Are they in shape for a rocky climb, or do you need to take the paved path? Are we using the right tools?

How are they feeling? Have they tuned out? They may be keeping up with pace and process, but may be frustrated.

A responsible guide checks on her group. She asks questions to ensure folks are still confidently following. She makes necessary adjustments, being mindful of the end point.

Remembering “Pace, Process, and Pulse” in your box of leadership tools can help you shift from good to great.

This article was inspired by a chapter in Ingrid Bens’ book Advanced Facilitation Strategies.

The Land Boat Ride For people who have been on the boat ride (at least in the early 90s)… the three things they remember are…

  1. hydroponic gardening (plants are grown without soil),
  2. the 1-piece baby-blue polyester overalls (i.e. farmer of the future) costume, and
  3. the theme song: “Let’s Listen to the Land.” (It is the 2nd most haunting song after “It’s a Small World” and sticks in your brain – forever).