I recently attended my first “Art of” event and I must say that it was worth every single penny. The Art of Leadership should be mandatory attendance, and not only for managers, CEOs, and top-rung corporate employees. If I had employees (hey, I’m a young entrepreneur), I would make them all go. Leaders are everywhere, can be created anywhere, and all of them can become better.
Now, I can’t give away the milk for free, but here are some of the key points that I took away from this conference. In addition to these great tips, the speakers themselves were inspirational. When you see real people telling great stories (rather than read it in a book), you are inspired. So next time, don’t just read it here, go see it for yourself. Then, as Ron Tite, host extraordinaire, said, “Make an action plan.”
“Life is about mastering the simple things.” – Patrick Lencioni
Is that Patrick Lencioni in a nutshell? No way. I am one of his biggest fans and really think you should all read his books. And no, he did not pay me to write that; he doesn’t even know me. But here is the core of what I learned from him that day: Much of what makes people great leaders is simple in theory but difficult to do everyday. As a great leader, you need to be vulnerable, willing to trust, willing to ask questions, and willing to admit mistakes. This will allow for accountability, and will essentially lead to great teamwork.
“What difference did you make?” – Robin Sharma
First off, thanks Robin for the book! (We all got one.) Robin notes that we are in the age of distraction; how true. Things are changing at such a rapid pace that some of us simply can’t keep up; we’re too busy playing with our iPhones (guilty). But, will you be a victim or will you be a leader? Victims are scared of change, leaders are inspired by change… and you can be a leader no matter what you do. Leadership is about what you do when no one is watching. So don’t postpone: inspire, influence, make an impact.
“Success or failure happens one conversation at a time.” – Susan Scott
Susan spoke what I believe to be valiant truths… and truths are what people are often afraid to share when it is something negative or difficult to hear. But people can handle the truth; we just have to find a way to offer it with respect. This means being honest, open and transparent. This allows us to make decisions and constantly move forward: “I want to be different when this conversation is over. Influence me!”
“Screw the 5-year plan.” – Leonard Brody
What, that’s crazy talk! Everyone has a 5-year plan! Okay, not me. I have a rough outline of what I’d like to see, but I don’t really have a plan per se… because things change and I’d rather adjust to change than be disappointed about what didn’t happen. I hope that’s what Leonard was alluding to!? What he said immediately after the above screw phrase was, “What matters is the next 365 days.” This is important because technology has allowed us to change and evolve at such a rapid pace; we need to continually adapt and understand changes in human behaviour so that we can build an environment that they can fit into. “It’s difficult to know where we’re going without understanding how we got here… If you accept you are leaders, accept that you are students of your humanity.”
“Don’t think outside the box; define a better box.” – Stephen Shapiro
Through interactive exercises, Stephen Shapiro stressed the importance of asking the right questions. “If you don’t have a well-defined problem up front, you won’t solve anything.” Like the other speakers, he also stressed the importance of making connections with people… and people were certainly creative when he asked us to think of uses of a brick!
“If you’re a leader, it’s all about people.” – General Rick Hillier
This man needs no introduction; he commanded both respect and honour by his words and presence. He had some great stories, some of which brought a tear to my eye. His words were simple yet powerful. Inspire and be inspired; it’s circular. Without a vision, you will not have priorities and you cannot communicate anything. Be passionate, be optimistic, be yourself. With that, he got a well-deserved standing ovation.
“It’s all about relationships.” – Me!
This seemed to be a recurring theme at The Art of Leadership. I certainly didn’t coin that phrase nor was I the first person to think it, but I do believe it. So much so that I entered it into the Alberta Venture Small Business Advice Contest… and it made the Top 10! If you agree, please vote for me! It takes less than a minute and would mean the world to me.