Leadership is not simple but complex. Leadership is not easy but hard. Leadership is not quickly and completely discovered but instead is a lifelong journey. Leadership is not static but constantly evolving. Leadership is not finite but infinite. Buzz Lightyear’s classic line “to infinity and beyond”, is a perfect descriptor of how limitless leadership is. Leadership is not about being a leader but rather about being a person who leads.
After 30 plus years in various leadership roles, reading of volumes of books on the subject, attending numerous workshops, exploring various leadership models and significant trial and error I still found myself with many questions and unknowns. I wanted to know more.
I embraced the words of John F. Kennedy: “ Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” and focused my energy on learning more. Two things proved inspirational and foundational in mapping my quest for leadership and learning. Collectively they also served as the impetus for the transformational experience I will discuss momentarily and that will serve as the focus of a series of blogs I will share in the future.
The first was my participation in the NACDA Spring Symposium(s) on leadership. The symposia are hosted annually for athletic directors in conjunction with our nation's military academies. The sessions and networking have proven very valuable and inspired a hunger to learn more.
The second was my deep delve into lessons from Simon Sinek. If you have never listed to his Ted Talk it’s well worth the time and if you have, it’s a great revisit click the picture to go to it and listen.
Sinek shares a thought-provoking message on the importance of discovering the “why”, “There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power and authority but those who lead inspire us. Whether they are individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it is those who start with the “why” who have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them”. His lessons changed the way I thought and challenged me to ask myself several questions about leading and my approach to leadership.
Motivated to learn more, in August of 2019, I embarked on what was to be a year long study and research sabbatical on leadership. In addition to dedicated reading of numerous books and articles on leadership and participating in workshops and clinics the primary focus of the experience was to meet with and interview athletic administrators around the country. The interviews involved a series of 20 questions about leadership as well as informal conversation about their leadership journey. While the pandemic caused a halt to the in-person sessions in March of 2020, the information collection continued virtually well beyond the initial year plan.
Over the months ahead throughout the 2021-2022 academic year I will be sharing findings and discoveries from that study/research experience in a series of blog posts. I am very optimistic you will find the information useful and thought provoking.
EMP welcomes the opportunity to assist you with leadership programming and to serve as your one stop affordable solution to make your professional life less complicated and more rewarding by sharing our resources to empower and inspire.
COO, Senior Partner