Lessons from The Leadership Challenge Forum

Steve Coats

Posted July 31, 2011 at http://i-lead.com/leadership/lessons-from-the-forum/

This past week, a couple hundred people met just off the Magnificent Mile in Chicago to learn more about the Magnificent Methodology of leadership development called The Leadership Challenge. Those of you with whom we at ILA work are quite familiar with this body of work. I thought you might appreciate a quick summary of powerful lessons from the Forum. The first few are about the content, the others are some other valuable tidbits.

  1. Leadership is not something else you hope to get to. It is an essential part of what you do. Remember that the next time you cite "no time" as an excuse.
  2. Like everything else, leadership takes practice. Start looking at your daily meetings and conversations as leadership practice fields. Use them to get better.
  3. There is a growing movement in academic and other institutions to help students/younger people learn to become better leaders earlier in their lives. Based on the current events in DC, a more mature age and effectiveness may not be so closely correlated (my opinion only).
  4. Leadership credibility starts with knowing oneself. A leader must still find his/her voice. You will need some valuable alone time.
  5. People remain clear about the 4 key characteristics they most look for in leaders. They may give their hands and motions to would-be leaders who lack these, but they will never give their total commitment. (Send us a message to learn more about these.)
  6. Meeting and communicating with a bunch of new and different people is both fabulous and fatiguing. Listening to and understanding differences in languages, experiences, opinions, and a host of other diversity factors is plain hard work.
  7. Hospitality hours are a good thing to alleviate the fatigue - a really good thing!
  8. You cannot please everybody. This Forum had a variety of leadership-related topics, including brain dominance, emotional intelligence, improvisation, and processes for stimulating collaborative interactions. Many liked the variety. Some did not.
  9. Event organizers must hear 5 comments about uncomfortable room temperatures, empty coffee urns and hotel room problems for every one piece of well-deserved praise. We must all better heed the advice given in comedy clubs, "tip your servers (organizing staff) generously," in this case with praise and admiration.
  10. Finally, there is a difference between a community of passionate and caring people and a cult. Stay tuned, as this will no doubt be the subject of a future blog.

Mark your calendars now. The 2012 Forum, celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Leadership Challenge, is set for July 26 - 27, 2012 in San Francisco. Come and see what lessons you can learn.

Steve Coats a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Certified Master, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. Steve blogs at http://i-lead.com/blog and can be reached via email at stevec@i-lead.com.

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