Small courtesies – the hallmark of great minds

David TaylorI received a very lovely and unexpected email today from David Taylor, author of The Naked Leader series, Visiting Professor of Leadership at Warwick and Ulster Business Schools, and one of the top business thinkers in the world. I interviewed him recently for The Extraordinary Business Book Club (the episode, which is a belter, by the way, will be broadcast on 2 January 2017). 

At the end of the interview he commented how much he’d enjoyed it, and I laughingly suggested he supply an endorsement for me as an interviewer. 

And today, this arrived in my inbox: 

‘Alison is a fantastic interviewer – she gets to what she knows people want to hear/read through brilliant questions, never aggressive ones, demonstrating the thoroughness of her research. I have been interviewed many times and by many people – Alison is the best.’

I didn’t at all expect such an eminent figure to follow up on my half-joking request, let alone so thoughfully and promptly. There’s nothing in this for him, of course, other than my heartfelt thanks. 

It made me think about how often I’m surprised by the graciousness and generosity of really eminent figures: Seth Godin’s readiness to stay on the call for longer than the allotted time because there was so much still to say, the Nobel Laureate who rang to check my daughter was OK the day after I’d had to cancel a meeting because she’d had an accident, the Emeritus Professor who invited us to stay with him and his family when he discovered we would be passing nearby on a long trip north.

Perhaps small courtesies are the hallmark of truly great minds, those who have gone beyond calculating the benefit of generosity and behave generously simply because that is how they choose to live. I’d like to think so.