[October 29, 2018] Sometimes you have a noteworthy idea, one that is difficult to put into words. I certainly do. In 1984, I had one of those aha-moments while watching television and saw a Gillette underarm-deodorant commercial. Never let them see you sweat was their tagline and is now a famous slogan. It put into words what I had been looking for.1
DAN REEVES (Head Coach, Denver Broncos): I think there’s three nevers to being a winning coach. Never let the press pick your starting quarterback. Never take a last place team lightly. And, really, no matter what the score, never let ‘em see you sweat. ANNOUNCER: That’s what new Dry Idea aerosol is all about. It keeps you drier than the leading aerosol. REEVES: Everyone feels pressure. Winners don’t let it show. ANNOUNCER: Dry Idea. Never let them see you sweat.
Wow, that sure was a flashback to an earlier time.
More important to me was the idea – not new to leadership – that as a leader you are in charge of matters of great concern and yet show little emotion or stress. When a leader acts calmly and confidently in a crisis, people will recognize emotional coolness under fire and will rely upon that person as a decisive leader.
A leader that can remain levelheaded and calm when the pressure gets turned up, is highly respected and desirable. Never let them see you sweat is a slogan captures this sentiment well. It is similar to showing good sportsmanship and maintaining grace under fire.
Conversely, when leaders lose their cool, bad things happen. When emotions take over, the results are unpredictable and often the byproduct is not what anyone wants. People observe the behavior of leaders closely and emulate them; the good and the bad.
The lesson is, of course, to never let ‘em see you sweat. Never let your emotions take control of you. Leadership is not a given and it’s not because of a declaration (like, I’m in charge) but because good leaders handle things calmly. That way, people willingly follow their lead.
- In 1984, the Gillette Company launched a new series of TV commercials for its Dry Idea antiperspirants that introduced the ad slogan: Never let them see you sweat.” According to the Gillette’s trademark registration for the slogan, it was “first used in commerce” on June 7, 1984.