Great leaders teach. Great teachers lead.
I wish I could take credit for those six words, but they were actually the name of a workshop I recently attended in Las Vegas spoken by the phenomenal leadership speaker Kirk Weisler.
The workshop was part of a conference package focusing on leaders in the technology arena. During my four days in Vegas, I met some wonderful individuals, participated in some excellent workshops, and listened to several extraordinary keynote speakers.
The day after I returned from the conference, I had the opportunity to attend another special event, an evening with Don Miguel Ruiz and Eva Charlotte Ruiz Larsson.
You may recognize Don Miguel Ruiz: author of The Four Agreements, The Fifth Agreement, and The Mastery of Love.
If you are struggling with taking your leadership role to the next level, or maybe would like to understand what the difference is between Leadership 101 and Leadership 201, allow me to share these past few days with you.
One would think the two events – a technology conference in Vegas and an evening with Don Miguel Ruiz would be about as dissimilar as something could be, but I found a deep connection between the two.
The theme of the conference in Las Vegas was License to Learn.
Don Miguel Ruiz and Charlotte spoke about the stories each of us have.
As I listened to Don Miguel and Charlotte speak, I realized they were solidifying what I had taken away from the Las Vegas conference.
Not only did a relationship exist, the connection between the two events reminded me of what I learned in graduate school: the importance for teaching what we learn.
As leaders, we all have a purpose to articulate our own teachable points of view on ethics and integrity. Furthermore, we have the responsibility to engage others and have them pass down their teachings as well.
How do we teach those we lead, whether they are our children, our direct reports, team members, customers, or other followers?
Of course, we all must walk the walk we talk. Our values, beliefs, ethics and integrity we teach must be transparent in our own lives.
However, we can also teach others by storytelling. One of the keynote speakers I listened to in Las Vegas was Aron Ralston.
Aron spoke about the large boulders we all face at one time or another in our lives. For Aron, his boulder was an 800-pound rock on his arm. After 127 hours in the Utah desert, Aron used his knife to cut off his arm.
This story definitely puts in perspective ”having a bad day at the office.”
Here is a little bit more of Aron’s story, if you are unfamiliar with the movie 127 hours.
Another speaker was Lt. Colonel Rob Waldman. Waldman spoke about teamwork – specifically his wingmen and how they guided him to safety and was able to see things he could not see on his plane. The Johari Window teaches us what others see that we ourselves do not see. We refer to it as our blind spot.
During my time at the Don Miguel Ruiz event, I had the opportunity to meet Mai Vu. Mai is an established coach living in the Bay Area who told me her story about becoming a coach. Mai also called me a sucker for not doing more, but I will leave that comment for another time.
The point of my lesson is that all of us have stories we can share during meetings or at the dinner table that can help others. We can talk about the boulders we have overcome, or how we progressed from point A to point B. We can talk about what teamwork means to us
However, I challenge everyone to take leadership to the next level. Start soliciting stories from others. Allow others to share their perspectives and develop their own teachable points of view.
One of my courses in graduate school involved watching Hollywood movies and critically evaluating the movie afterwards. Students would need to step into the shoes of the character and consider why they did what they did.
Needless to say, I have not been able to watch a movie the same way since. I also realize it may not be practical to watch a full length Hollywood movie during the next staff meeting, but the Internet has many short videos that can offer the same experience
I’ll end this post with the following short video found on YouTube. Get past the comedy and ask yourself what kind of message is being delivered. Ask others the same question. Listen to their stories.
Thankfully, not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.