Monday, 10 March 2014

LI 2014 Part One: Of Shepherds, Snacks and Spies

It was almost zero and the air conditioning was warm and welcoming as I entered the plush halls of Loews Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana for the IABC Leadership Institute 2014.

It was my birthday and soon I was covered in dollar pins by traditional New Orleans well-wishers.

I took advantage of the pre-conference leadership workshop entitled “Exploring your Leadership Style” by C3ropely Communications and enjoyed every moment of being stretched mentally and sometimes emotionally by Facilitator, Adrian Cropely (right).

My favourite quote cited was from Nelson Mandela on how leaders are like shepherds: “A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

We explored the colour and durability of our shepherd’s cloaks with a number of exercises including tests of our leadership style, team player style and emotional intelligence.

Adrian challenged us to review Raymond Catwell’s list of leadership traits created in 1954 and determine what traits were missing from the list but critical in this new millennium.  My group came up with:
·         Life-learner – leaders must always be researching trends in their chosen field
·         Visionary – leaders must create visions that their followers will want to buy into
·         Innovative/ Creative – leaders must use unique strategies to drive competitiveness
·         Strong communication skills – leaders must be able to use communication tools well

We also determined it was advantageous to hire persons with strengths where you have identified weaknesses in yourself as a leader.

Each participant did a number of tests during the workshop to identify their leadership style and were challenged to consider augmenting their approach to cater to the varying scenarios.  In each hypothetical case presented we had the option to direct, coach, support or delegate our direct reports based on whether they were enthusiastic beginners, disillusioned learners, capable but cautious performers or self-reliant achievers.

Attendees were exposed to emotional intelligence theory and advised to heighten their self-awareness in the three tricky areas of:
-       Accepting and managing change
-       Teamwork capabilities
-       Interpersonal relationships with team members

For communicators on the agency side, there was the communicator client relationship model.  It made consultants ask themselves whether they were spending the majority of their time working on tactics, strategy building or being a trusted advisor.

Perhaps the participants had the most fun when groups were shown briefly a model made from toothpicks and yummy raspberry gummy snacks before being challenged to replicate it. 

Each participant was given a card that either said participant or spy.  In the end we learned a powerful lesson – no one on the job is a spy; and we all want to get the job done until our emotions descend into unhealthy suspicion. 

At the end of this session, we each documented the activities we would stop doing, start doing, continue doing or do differently.

The best news about this exercise was that all participants earned credits toward the upcoming IABC Certification programme.

Hopefully, we will be able to appoint someone in the Caribbean to deliver a similar workshop while we wait for the certification programme to commence.