What does leadership look like?
This week, the Wellbrock family took our first bike ride of the year, enjoying a beautiful spring evening. For me, these are the elements which make bicycling unique from other activities: a fresh breeze whipping through my hair and touching my face; pumping the pedals and feeling the healthy burn in my muscles; moments sorting out my own thoughts while spending quality time with my family.
During our leisurely ride around the neighborhood, I discovered an interesting observation about leading and leadership. When we began, I took the lead cyclist role, with Gerard lagging behind our son so Garrett could remain in our protective pocket.
With my family “blind” to me, I kept trying to see them by looking continuously over my shoulder. With my focus on them rather than on obstacles ahead, I ultimately put all of us at a greater risk for harm — the exact opposite of what I wanted to accomplish.
Eventually, a left turn placed Gerard naturally in the lead, and I realized I became more comfortable with my surroundings. My son was still protected (yes, motherly instinct kicking in), and I had full view of my future (literally and figuratively). I now was able to communicate effectively with my family and give cycling advice to my son.
With my husband as our cycling leader, I suppose that makes me the follower to some people’s perspective. Regardless of my position within the team, I was still demonstrating leadership by choosing the best role for the situation, providing guidance and better communication to my team, as well as cheering on the others to perform to their best.
On Tuesday, the class of Leadership Hays 2012 will meet for their final class before they officially graduate during our Chamber membership luncheon later this month. This will be the seventh session where 25 area citizens have studied in-depth on leadership techniques, helping each to be more effective at work, at home, at church and the community-at-large. Facilitation has evolved around the core concept that Leadership is not a role, a position or a title — it is an activity.
When wrapping up each session, each attendee shares an “AHA! Moment” (you know, the moment the cranial light bulb clicks on and you can see things more clearly?) regarding the day’s activities or discussion.
Verbally describing an experience creates a more impactful, long-lasting impression for students. The cycling story above was my “AHA!,” my example of leadership in action and my personal attempt to better understand the complexity of effective leadership. As I would ask the students of Leadership Hays, “What does leadership look like to you?”
If you aren’t satisfied with your answer, than perhaps Leadership Hays would be a great opportunity for you. We would love to have you join us for the class of 2013!
Tammy Wellbrock is executive director of the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce.