Why Columbo Enchanted us & how he won every case

Why Columbo enchanted us & how he won every case

(Spoiler alert: He used Empathy 101)

From 1971 until 2003, audiences were entertained with an atypical whodunit television show where a character played by Peter Falk named “Lieutenant Columbo” solved mysterious crimes. For those unfamiliar, Columbo was like a more empathetic, personable Sherlock Holmes. As viewers, we already knew who played the perpetrator; so we were entertained by the detective’s skill in finding the clues to uncover and understand the facts. Columbo used high-level communication skills. He asked a lot of questions and then he cocked his head a bit and does a curious thing: he just listens. He patiently observed the subjects and thought about their body language, their words and their emotions. This secret weapon he used always resulted in a winning case. People trusted him, opened up, shared theories and supported his vision. Why and how did he do that? Empathy 101.

“Empathetic Understanding goes beyond understanding the facts that are presented by your leaders; it is knowing how they feel, think and perceive things. Clear communication, dialogue, and gaining understanding by listening with an empathetic ear unlocks learning and growth. This is a key leadership skill.”

Back to our business reality today…As leaders, we too, need to be a Curious Detective.
No matter the current status of your leadership journey, communication steps out as a critical skill in managing people. Be clear, have a structured message, listen curiously, and allow for feedback and discussion.
As you advance your career, you’ll find that there’s nothing more satisfying than recognizing people’s strengths and then collaboratively solving problems or attaining goals in innovative ways. It is extremely important for you to learn how to harness everyone’s full potential. The most effective Leaders love challenges and are unafraid to “let go” to help unleash the team’s creativity even when it feels risky.

Develop high level communication skills to empower your teams/leaders by learning and coaching Empathy. Look forward to these outcomes:

  • Colleagues’ and clients’ sharing will open up and Trust skyrockets
  • As growth is experienced, people accomplish more.
  • Soft skills of emotional intelligence and feelings become differentiators when competing for new business as well as keeping current clients and coworkers feeling appreciated and happy.

This is an important tool in your leadership portfolio. Ask yourself, “Do I listen well? Do I know or ask for people’s whys or goals? Do I know how they feel, think and perceive things?
While this exercise may feel like taking a turn onto an unknown “Dirt Road”, be assured, it’s filled with pleasant surprises. The discoveries will help strengthen your Empathy muscle and begin developing your leaders in a way that allows them to emerge to their full potential.
NUDGE: Try your hand at being a curious detective. Listen to understand, cock your head to the side a bit. And just listen.