Over the last two weeks or so I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with three special events where I witnessed great leadership in action. I will forewarn you that two of the events are related to our grandchildren and the third is related to UPCEA. So for those of you who are tired of my stories of my grandchildren (and I know who you are), feel free to skip to the third event.
1) Sofia’s dance recital
We are lucky enough that we live close enough to one set of our grandkids that we can be there in two hours and still get home before I turn into a pumpkin. The dance recital featured over a dozen dancers ranging from 3 to just about 5 year olds. The deft leadership I witnessed was the dance instructor. Before coming on stage, she talked with the audience (parents, grandparents, etc.) and “set the scene/described the vision/painted the landscape” of what we were about to see. She then turned the stage over to the dancers but continued to provide “supportive leadership” by “modeling anticipated behavior” and providing “positive feedback” and “encouragement” by smiling and dancing while “going to the balcony.” Finally, at the end of the performance, the dance instructor, like all great leaders, gave credit where credit is due and stepped aside to join the applause for an outstanding dance performance. She also provided “rewards” to each dancer in the form of certificates and cool jewelry.
2) Ryan’s first birthday party
There may be no greater leadership opportunity than hosting a birthday party for really young children, because you are really serving three audiences. First, you have the birthday kid (boy in this case) and the other kids that are his age (one in this case). Second, you have the brothers and sisters of the birthday boy, kids that ranged from 2 to 7 years old. Finally, you have the parents, grandparents, and friends of the Mom and Dad. Clearly each group has unique expectations and needs to be fulfilled if the birthday party is to be a success. A great leader finds ways to meet and at times exceed the needs of these various constituencies. The deft leadership at this event was displayed by my daughter-in-law and son. Good leaders, when faced with a challenge like “the first birthday party” begin with “a plan.” This is exactly what they did, they had a plan that included a time-line, arrival, games, snack time, cake time, and departure, that was flexible yet punctual. A great leader’s plan must also include “feeding the troops first” and providing appropriate nourishment for the various constituencies. In this case, that included chocolate milk (they had these really cool straws that took regular milk and made it chocolate milk), various juice boxes, and “spirits” for the adults. Finally, the plan included rewards for attending. There were gift bags for everyone (except the adults) thus assuring that participants left feeling the party was a great success and exceeded their expectations. And just for the record the party was wonderful.
3) UPCEA Strategic Planning
Last week, May 25 and 26, twelve of your UPCEA colleagues and our CFO and CEO met in Washington, DC, as part of the next phase in the strategic planning process for UPCEA. The deft leadership was demonstrated by the chair of our strategic planning committee Tom Gibbons and our CEO, Bob Hansen, and quite honestly by the full committee that committed several hours over two days to the planning process. The leadership I witnessed has to do with our strategic planning process:
Great leaders make data-driven decisions, and that is exactly where the strategic planning process began with an analysis done by McKinley Marketing Inc.
Great leaders solicit and listen to the input from their constituency and that is what happened at the Leadership Summit at the annual conference in Toronto.
Great leaders provide focus, and many thanks to Tom and Bob for spending two days in Chicago digesting and focusing what was said in Toronto.
Great leaders also recognize and show appreciation for outstanding contributions and I want to pause and thank all those who participated in the meeting in DC.
Great leaders strive for transparency and with Tom’s leadership, we’ve designed the UPCEA strategic planning process to maximize member input.
In a phrase, the UPCEA strategic planning process is moving forward. In the next InFocus and in a future blog post, I will discuss in greater detail about what has happened and plans for the future related to the Strategic Planning Committee, and how you can provide input. One of my commitments to the UPCEA membership was to be an advocate for accountability (https://shaeffersforays.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/my-commitment-to-the-upcea-members/) which includes striving to operate in a transparent manner and that is a major goal in the strategic planning process.
No holes in one this time, but I had the wonderful experience of spending time with family members playing 70 plus holes of golf over four days. No great improvement in my game, actually I have only more aches and pains to show for it but great memories.