The lost art of phone calls

Posted on September 17, 2009



The other day I received a very unexpected phone call that reminded me of an important lesson in leadership. A day earlier I had e-mailed someone I consider a hero of mine in the area of creative leadership. I began the e-mail with a general praise of this persons works then moved into asking some advice in the area of leadership. I hit send not expecting anything in return. This leader is quite accomplished and I’m sure innudated with e-mails like mine. To my surprise I got a phone call from him, which I missed because I was busy in a meeting (Grrrr!). In his brief message, he thanked me for the note, encouraged me, and then wished me well. It cost him very little but meant a lot to me.  

We live in an era of written technology as our primary form of communication. I’m not sure when the transition happened but it is for sure here. The speed and comfort of e-mail, SMS, and Twitter, allows us to avoid direct human interaction at all costs. It’s just easier to hit ‘reply’ and send the info back to the sender. It cost you little and it means little to the receiver. For myself, I have often reduced the value of my friends and followers to 140 characters- it’s just sad. Shame on me.

The voice message really made me stop and think. Not about the content but about the act. If I was in his position, I would have sent the message back the way it came and would not have even considered calling. Why? Because calling would open up the floodgates of actual personal interaction which will lead who knows where. It’s all fear based.

I already had immensely high respect for this person and now I do even more. He took an opportunty to communicate and made it an interaction. Without interaction a leader will never succeed. So my lesson to all of us as creative leaders; create margins in your life to call people back. Leave messages often. Create interactions not just communication.

Remember, technology will never replace the power of human touch.

Posted in: Simplicity Sells