So, when watching re-runs of Mad Men recently, I noticed Don Draper—the quintessential pitch man—was uncharacteristically demonstrating great leadership. He has always evoked the leader qualities, like inspiring confidence, acting cool under pressure, and being ruggedly persuasive. However, this time Don moved from leader to creator of leadership. How? He put others first.
Don Draper makes me yearn for the days of pitch making. A pitch causes one to become focused and clear. There is no room for equivocation. I have often told students the most important outcome of the pitch is to generate confidence; therefore any doubt expressed by the presenter sinks any hope of generating confidence. But, with confidence in the presenter the client will buy anything. People always buy the person before they buy what the person has to sell. Often times, this is what is meant by what some folks call "chemistry" ... that special intangible. Who could forget when Roger Sterling chastises poor Pete Campbell after he bombs with the Admiral TV client: half the time this business comes down to "I didn't like the guy!"
Back to Draper and his transition from leader to creator of leadership.
In the most recent batch of episodes the agency is about to pitch Burger Chef, when it becomes very clear to Don that he is no longer going to be a part of the agency, so he decides he should hand off to Peggy who he has been mentoring for nearly a decade. Draper understands the importance of confidence, both that which he places in Peggy to deliver the goods and that which the Burger Chef people must have in the person who wins their business. If it is Don and he leaves, so goes the confidence. But, if Peggy steps up and wins the client confidence the agency wins even if Draper is booted out the door.
Wait, narcissistic Don Draper takes one for the team? Yep, and it is at that moment he steps up to a new kind of leader to that of being a creator of leadership ... a far more endearing role than the white knight saving the day. Don empowers Peggy.
Leader. Leadership. It is a great feeling to deliver a pitch that wins the business. Euphoric. But, to cause that to happen in others ... that's leadership.