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Defining leadership

Leadership is a buzz word today.

As a society we grasp onto terms and use them until we get tired of hearing them and then we come up with another one to replace it, like wheelhouse or awesome. We overuse them, get rid of them and replace them.

Leadership is a tough one to replace. The thesaurus uses words like management, control, guidance, headship, direction and governance. None of which capture what leadership is really all about. Leadership, in my opinion, is a behaviour or collection of behaviours.

Last fall, I became certified to deliver a new experiential leadership course called Personify Leadership. It was released in the U.S. last May.

It’s a two-day high-intensity program that provides comprehensive development for leaders in eight core competencies. Essentially it breaks down our body into parts and relates leadership qualities and actions to each one.

For example, the heart of a leader; be a leader whose intention is to look out for the best interest of others. Only this program goes one step further and actually helps you understand how to look out for the best interest of others and gives you tools to implement right away.

The group I attended with was very diverse — construction supervisors to high-level health professionals. I decided to become one of their facilitators because I like the content; it’s relevant, it’s current and it’s tactile. All of this good feeling was further endorsed when we were released at the close of the second day and no one left. The entire group remained seated and just visited with each other, laughing and sharing.

I have never been to a workshop or training that people weren’t firing out the door at the close, or better yet, negotiating shorter lunches to get out early. None of that happened here, and that struck me. Maybe it was the facilitators, or just a group that melded well? But you can’t ignore that the content must be influential in the sense of community we felt. You also can’t ignore we all left there feeling good and empowered and equipped with tools to be better leaders the very next day.

Over the course of my career I have taken a lot of professional development. Personify Leadership is the best short duration course I’ve taken on leadership.

Companies are now looking at bringing trainers into their organization because costs run high to send people away to conferences or similar. The cost of travel and expenses can add hundreds and hundreds of dollars to the cost of a course. And if you are rural, like we are here, one course can easily eat away your entire professional development budget. Now I can also appreciate wanting to go away for educational opportunities. But what is the goal? A vacation? Time away? To evolve? To learn?

Developing training takes time, developing good or great training takes more time. I work in the industry and I, like most, have experienced some resistance and feedback like "it’s out of our budget" or "that’s higher than I thought." Which are all fair comments.

As a consumer, I ask you to keep in mind the front-end research and development, the composition, the practice and practice and more practice, and then the delivery when assessing the cost of training. And the delivery is taxing particularly if you have a very engaged or a not very engaged crowd.

Consider for a moment how much time you take in preparing a presentation or a speech or a lecture that maybe lasts 20 minutes or an hour. Now use that number to estimate what developing a full-day training with appropriate and aligned activities, videos, group work and individual work would equate to. It’s not just straight time leading a session, it’s all the work that goes into creating that bang-up targeted, experiential, current, creative, engaging session.

I worked for a company that told me what my professional development allocation was and how I was going to spend it. If, after I completed the mandated requirements, there was money left over, I could submit a request and potentially get approval to attend.

Most times I was denied because the cost was too high to actually get me to where the training was offered. So I was penalized because I was rural, not really, but that’s what it felt like.

Professional development is considered to be a process of personal growth through programs, services and activities designed to enable people, individually or collectively, to enhance professional practice. How personal is it if I don’t get a say in what or how I want to enhance or grow?

Leadership is a skill, a behaviour-based approach to being at the head of an organization, team or even family. It’s a constant evolution of the awareness of your own ego.

Great leaders are aware of their intentions, aware of their knee-jerk reactions that are misdirected, aware of the fact that leadership is not friendship, aware that sometimes enforcing rules or systems that cause change is necessary but really lacks joy. Great leaders apologize when they make a wrong turn or judgment. Great leaders delegate, educate and share credit.

Great leaders move people by being an example that they want to follow. Move them in the direction of their own evolution. Great leaders should be in constant succession planning and find exhilaration in their team excelling.

Leadership is not competitive. Leadership is not management. Leadership is an opportunity to influence people in a positive light that will encourage them to see their worth, their skills, their own vision and their goals and put them into good use for the greater good of the organization, team or family. Leadership is constant learning. Leadership is a gift.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 17, 2014

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Leadership is a buzz word today.

As a society we grasp onto terms and use them until we get tired of hearing them and then we come up with another one to replace it, like wheelhouse or awesome. We overuse them, get rid of them and replace them.

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Leadership is a buzz word today.

As a society we grasp onto terms and use them until we get tired of hearing them and then we come up with another one to replace it, like wheelhouse or awesome. We overuse them, get rid of them and replace them.

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