How Pharell Williams Helps Me Be a Better Leadership Coach

I still get a smile when I hear Pharell William’s song “Happy” come on the radio.   I was curious about the person who got me clapping along in the kitchen.

As luck would have it, in the fall of 2014, he became a coach on The Voice – the NBC singing/talent contest.  I was hooked.  Each week I gleaned leadership gems from Pharell, the contestants and the other coaches. 

Here are a few that translate to helping leaders to grow their repertoire. 

1.   Conviction.  Pharell told his team members to sing with “conviction”.   One definition is: “a strong persuasion or belief”. As a leadership coach, I work to get clients in touch with, and act from their conviction. Whether from belief in their value, perspective or gut instinct – to clearly know it and come from that place.  

2.   Stand up.  When Pharell feels a connection with the singer and the song, he is out of his chair and on his feet.  He stands at attention, rapt.  I love all the implications of this – acknowledging what someone else has done, giving them that feedback.  He is their mirror – when they are standing up for themselves through song – he stands right back up for them.

3.   “Sing YOUR Story.”  Pharell got mad and chided a young team member after a performance, “Don’t sing anyone else’s story. Sing YOUR story.”  I translate that to: share your authenticity; don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Easier said than done for many leaders in the work world.  But when you do, we connect – to your humanness and courage.  And that inspires us to follow.

Oh my – there really could be more.  But I’m interested: as leaders how do you come from your conviction, stand up or share your story?