For over thirty years, I have spent countless hours meeting with large and small groups of people. Some days I have keynoted conferences with over one thousand people in attendance. Other days I have visited with ten people around a conference. Often, I have been profoundly moved during a one to one executive coaching session. And in each of these large and small gatherings or during private one to one sessions, I have listened and learned a great deal.
While there are three primary ways of learning, namely doers, analyzers and watchers, I am often hired to be a watcher, someone who comes in, steps back and sees the bigger picture of what is going on. From my vantage point, I often can notice the invisible obvious and share my observations and perspectives with the CEO or other senior executives.
In this space, I am an ally and a confidant, i.e. someone who listens to understand rather than to respond. I come to each group prepared to share, but more importantly I also am prepared to learn and to relearn about what is most important. Over time, I can often see a pattern of what is getting in the way and what misalignments need to be corrected.
But along this life long journey of watching, I have been given a profound gift, namely the opportunity to witness great leaders at work. Sometimes, it has been with large groups and other days it is small groups. What ever the context, the good ones are able to do four things extremely well, namely grow their organization, help others envision a better future, steward key people and resources, and finally activate and energize key people and systems so that the organization will endure once they leave.
This winter into spring I want to share with you what I have learned from my journey of working with great leaders. Some of the lessons may seem pretty simple but I guarantee you they are not easy. Other lessons may be both complicated and complex. Still, as a whole, they are worth pursuing because in the end, everyone wants to work for a great leader and, if given the chance, to be a great leader.
This week, I want you to begin thinking about what are the characteristics of great leaders who you would be willing to follow. Write them down and we can compare lists over the course of the coming weeks.