On April 23, the 18th Annual Serving Leader Conference will be held in Pittsburgh, this year featuring the work of Dr. Henry Cloud. I am looking forward to sitting at Dr. Cloud’s feet as he works through the subject of “Necessary Endings” and teaches us how to make vibrant, highly fruitful connections in our relationships (for both life and leadership) and how to avoid one of the most common pitfalls of leadership, which is isolation and insulation.
This year’s Serving Leader Conference Keynote Speaker, Dr. Henry Cloud
We have been reflecting over the last number of posts on the importance of growth. The field of leadership is littered and strewn with tragic tales of bright, gifted, ambitious and visionary leaders who have destroyed their careers and their companies (and often their lives) by locking themselves up inside their own self-preoccupation. There are a number of reasons why this happens and I would like to offer four very effective cures that I have been learning over the years to overcome this debilitating disease of “Insulationism.”
- Insist on getting feedback. I cannot stress this enough. We need to hear from the people we serve and associate with. We are unlikely to get any real feedback if we do not have a specific plan of action to help people say what they are usually unlikely to say. “I know you are very loyal to us and you have expressed your deep appreciation many times, but would you do me the favor of telling me what things irritate or frustrate you about our work that, if it were not for your love and loyalty, you would never put up with.” That is just one kind of question designed to intentionally gain the feedback that we would not otherwise receive.
- Listen to the feedback. Then listen some more. One of the best ways to double down on the value of the feedback you receive is to not bring the feedback to a premature conclusion. When one of your teammates or customers or family members has said something to you that needed to be said, try one of these follow-on sentences: “Say more!” “What else?” “And?” Listen longer.
- Slow down/get present. Many leaders I coach have a hard time being in the actual room that they are in. Their body is in the chair but their mind and attention are soaring or scrambling elsewhere. Mentally, they are racing ahead. Prayer, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, meditative walks – all are useful to collect the scattered parts of our being back and tuck them inside of our own skin. We are extraordinarily ineffective when we dash through every room, pig-pen like, with parts of us flying around us like a cloud of dirt. We need to become present to the things that we are present to.
- Seek the enduring source of your worth. Answer life’s deeper questions from beyond your checklist of daily goals and accomplishments. I am saying something to you here that is undeniably of a spiritual nature. The being that you are must find its worth and security beyond the doing that you do. Your doing counts, to be sure, but it will never add up to be enough. The problem of isolation and insulation is nipped in the bud when we can rest our life inside greater arms then our own.
I urge you to register for our Serving Leader Conference on April 23. We will again have a fantastic day gathering with 500 regional business leaders and colleagues. I urge my friends from our Serving Leader Cohorts around the United States to consider coming, too. We will do some special things together to make it worth your trip. For more information about the conference, visit www.servingleadership.com. See you on April 23!