My leadership ways

November 1, 2012 (San Diego            Through guided coaching I am finding that my leadership ways are impacted by events that have happened over my life. Amongst the several leadership roles I am filling one is that I am the President of a Toastmasters Club.

Through the coaching process I wrote a paper on my “Leadership Point of View” as the President. Extracts from that paper are written below.  The points are written as if I was talking to the members of the club.

Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of why I lead our Toastmasters Club the way I do and what you can expect from that perspective.

There were a few key events in my life that have had a memorable impact and effect the way I lead others and myself.

When I was in kindergarten, wow that was a few years ago. I can clearly recall being bullied on a regular basis. What stands out in my mind the most is that I felt all alone in dealing with the situations. No friends to back me up, no authority figures to break things up. My defensive strategy was to be as invisible as possible. Minimize my exposure. Be safe.

As I grew I did things that supported that perspective. In middle school I did paper routes that were totally on my own. I did not have to interact with peers. I arose at 5 a.m. and merrily went about my job.  It was in this though that I discovered my sense of achievement. I liked to do things that can be measured and systematically improved.

After school I would go home and work on building plastic ship models for hours on end. I did not wish to engage with the others in my class. I am sure I was seen as a recluse.

Then there was the church dance. Phew. I have no idea why I went, but there I was on the side line when all of a sudden a ½ dozen girls came up and asked to dance. Wow, that was thrilling but way overwhelming. I had no idea why that happen but it did move my social dial one little notch. I am sure if I was not so impacted early in my life that this might have been a break through, but alas not so. I was asked out to a Sadie Hawkins dance.  It was a breakthrough into the social arena but minor.  More than I can imagine those early years really molded me.

A final humiliation from public exposure was from the football team. I was on the team because they did not throw any warm body off the team. I got to dress for only one Saturday game and that was all I could take. As part of the warm ups we all went out and picked up one other player and carried him 5 yards. The guy assigned to me I could not have picked up if my life depended on it. Try as I might I was not getting him off the ground. The coach was yelling something at me and I could hear sniping from the stands that told me some others could also see that this was an awful  spectacle.  I suppose the coach felt that a good dose of public humiliation would get something out of me. It did, get out of the public “lime light.”

In the midst of the high visibility public sadness I was moving myself up step by step in leadership in the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scouts was not overly popular with the popular boys in school so I found myself on solid ground with the other 2nd string of guys. I found I was a good leader and I really contributed when I had the opportunity.

In college I became a service club leader and then the President of the Service Club Association.  This was just the place for me to further my leadership applications while still in a learning environment. As I moved on to University I went back into seclusion. I worked in the chemistry labs as a technician. I was a Chemistry major so spending hours every day and over the weekend was just fine with me. I was well supported and rewarded. I was encouraged to do more and more. I was trusted to do things that directly supported very expensive experiments. My achievement genes were going crazy as I toiled away hours on end working pretty much alone in the labs.

These fundamental experiences developed in me some leader practices which you can expect from me as the President of this club.

  1. You can expect me to delegate and avidly support and encourage your efforts. I will not abandon you to the randomness of learning on your own. Just like I have done with Robert as our Sergeant at Arms.
  2. You will find me most supportive and only mildly corrective. I will treat an error or omission as a learning step. For example, when we had an error in the format of the agenda I worked with Oscar to fix it. No blame, no admonishments, just let’s find the error and move on.
  3. I will do most anything to encourage and support all your efforts either the routine or the innovative. You will find me doing this even if I do not believe the idea is so great. I will encourage you to move it forward so we all can see how it will play out. It could be a winner or a bust, but let’s find out.  This is how I helped the various parts of the Employee Fair event last week.
  4. I will pay a lot of attention to detail to insure that I have communicated well in the delegation process. Once I see the things are moving forward nicely I will back off significantly. This is exactly how Barbara and I have developed the Secretary position.
  5. I als0 love Toastmasters because of the metrics. There is a measure for everything including club success. You can most certainly count on me to connect with you regularly about the metric of club excellence that pertains to your role. I love to succeed and I know how to do it in Toastmasters. Oscar and Luis hear from me more than weekly about what they are doing as the VP of Education and the club Treasurer.

The learning experiences in my life were not all nice but they were all useful for me.  Some of the utility has been a long time in realizing and I am sure I am still under development. I would clearly have avoided the football experience. By it I made sure that I did not publicly humiliate anyone, set people up for failure, or attempt to create action by belittlement. I am here for you as a co-player and learner. I love to achieve with others.

Truth is though I love to achieve more than I a love being with others. Need to work on that.

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