Looking for leadership lessons? Leave your books at home and hang out at the beach.
Yesterday, I sprawled out on a towel at Huntington Beach in Cleveland (yes, we have beautiful, sandy beaches along the North Coast) and cracked open a thick leadership management book. I was wading into a third tedious case study when four sand urchins trampled my space, giggling and screaming.
They were trawling water to fill the mote protecting their sand castle, and I was in their path.
"More water, more water!" squealed a little girl in a bright yellow one piece. "I've got longer legs, I'll go into the lake and pass the buckets back to the rest of you,"
yelled a slightly older boy. "I'll guard the mote!" said a sandy-haired vision in hot pink polka dots. "Thanks Mia!" said the rest to the tiniest member of their motley crew.
The kids were a model of cooperation and efficiency.
The boy scooped bucket after bucket and left them at the water's edge for the two little girls to haul back, while Mia supervised. When a bucket was emptied too fast, causing a break wall to crumble, Mia would scream "Leak! Leak!" and one of the little girls would add sand and pat the wall shut.
This ritual continued non-stop for 15 minutes, then the entire team collapsed in front of the fortified castle congratulating each other. Then the three older crew members shouted in unison: "Great job, Mia!" Mia beamed, then slowly stood up, her diaper swollen with lake water. "Let's do it again!" Mia screeched, as she kicked a gash into the mote, unleashing a miniature tsunami. "Eeeeeeee!" squealed the kids with more delight than horror, and the play resumed.
Lessons learned from my pint-sized executives:1. Have a clear goal that everyone understands and agrees to. Be quick to celebrate little victories along the way, which builds and sustains momentum.
2. Develop a clear path of responsibility & accountability.
3. Be smart with your resources. Position your team's skill sets to take greatest advantage of individual mental and physical strengths.
4. Be flexible. Planning is great, but it's more effective to take action and adjust to unforeseen challenges on the fly, learning and refining your methods as you go.
5. Have fun! There is always an opportunity for play and celebration in even the most mundane tasks IF you're open to it.
6. Blow it up and do it again. If you have a process that works, that's wonderful. But it can always be better.
Kick down the sand castle and rebuild it from scratch to find new efficiencies, new processes and better ways to get results.
And the most important lesson?
Chill out! Leave the business books on the shelf for a few weeks. Find a sunny spot, whether it's at the beach or in the parking lot behind the office. Take in a few rays, breathe deeply and observe. There's so much to learn and the lessons are all around us. Just ask Mia.
will continue to evolve to complement my roles as a national speaker, trainer and consultant. I welcome your comments and questions along the way.
In the coming months, dear reader, you and I will explore the psychology and neuroscience of perception and how it informs our approach to business and life.