Fall 2012

Have you ever noticed the effect one negative voice has? How sometimes folks are swayed from doing the right thing by a voice that leads them in the wrong direction. How people don't take stock of the situation and by not taking a moment or two or even three they take the easy way, which is often the least desirable path. In this issue I'm going to discuss a few lessons learned along my path and how by taking a moment to take stock and think about my next steps I'm better prepared and hopefully you will be too, for the rest of the journey.

Compass Do you know where you are going? Does your team? How about your organization? What about your leadership? How do you take stock and check in on yourself, your team or your organization? Leadership is being talked about a great deal during this election year. Are you finding yourself turned off by all the rhetoric and positioning? Think about the folks that have led you in your journey. The good leaders and the bad ones too. At this moment in our lives it is crucial to be able to spot and follow the good leaders and the people who support them. Here are a few traits that I've found true leaders possess.

1. They don't look for the easy way, they look for the right way. Good leaders look ahead and prepare the road for the folks that they lead. They access the situation and make decisions that will deliver the best result for the team. They think long term and not quick fix.
2. They have a firm but not inflexible internal compass and convictions that they share as a guiding beacon to the folks they work with and lead. Even though leaders make mistake they do not blame others for them. They focus on the next right step to take not the wrong step just taken. They support and push their teams up. They don't slam the team the competition or past leaders. Great leaders are too busy leading and getting things done.
3. Great leaders set an example and lead from the front not the board room or sideline. Great leaders stand up for their teams and organizations and aren't afraid to take a few hits in the process. How inspired have you been by a leader taking charge, picking up the tools and starting the process? How about the leader that heads to the front lines to see for themselves what is happening there?
4. Great leaders understand the value of training and of getting the right combination of players on a mission. As one of our speakers, former fighter pilot Rob "Waldo" Waldman always says "Chair fly the mission!" Go over the details and consider contingency plans in advance. Don't wait until D-Day to plan for the challenges you know you will or could be facing.

5. Good leaders practice, prepare, train and retrain themselves and their teams. Have you ever heard of taking a few moments to sharpen the saw prior to using the tool? A simple cut can become a huge problem and very expensive if you try to work with a dull tool or a dull mind. When was the last time you got a tune up? Took a course or attended an industry meeting? Good leaders support association membership and assist their team with financial support. Don't wait until the challenge comes and your old tools are so dull you cannot get job done.

Recently I attended an MPI monthly meeting about risk management. Having run events with over 100,000 attendees I felt I had a good grasp on the subject matter. As the speaker started to address the group I found it refreshing and supportive to hear a review of the "right steps to take", not the easy steps but the RIGHT STEPS to take to avoid problems and reduce risk. I realized that even though I had a firm grasp on the subject matter the review was good for me to experience and it made me think about some additional steps I could take to reduce stress and risk in my business.

Steps You Can Take
Clouds How are you preparing for your next leadership role? Do you take time away from the grind to focus on your future and how you can better prepare for it? Most folks just get caught up in the rat race and never get of the tread mill to take stock. Don't believe me? Just take a look around, say on your next commute? Why in this day and age are so many folks sitting in traffic and spending their lives locked in a death race to the office or the end of their life?? Maybe you can set the example as a meeting professional? How about establishing an annual retreat? What about a random event? It doesn't even have to be fancy. Many years ago I was a foreman with over one hundred folks working for me. The day was not going well and people were bitter and stressed. I stopped what I was doing and took a short "Out Of Office Experience". I went to the local paper store and purchased all of their bubble gum and upon my return to the shop I handed every single employee a piece of gum and told them to chew on that instead of each other and some of the challenges we had been facing. In an instant the mood was changed and everyone took a moment and reframed the rest of the day! It took only a few dollars and about 30 minutes to set a better course for the rest of the day and in fact for weeks to come. Each of us face many challenges and the game of life can become overwhelming especially during weak economic times or in times of crisis. The organizations that I work with that take action, plan events, meetings and retreats always have a better perspective and are usually leaders in their respective markets. It doesn't even have to be perfect! The choice is clear: follow blindly or step up and lead!

Chris Reagan Mt. Katahdin, on the Knifes Edge,  Maine

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Chris Reagan
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