One of the attendees at our most recent Academy Leadership Excellence Courses hosted at the USAF Academy shared a realization both on the first day to our group of eleven, and afterward during our one-on-one follow-on executive coaching sessions. Here’s what happened. Much of the first day of a Leadership Excellence Course is focused on learning about ourselves, in particular, what energizes us so that we may energize and perhaps inspire others. This attendee shared his reflection that over the past six months his working environment had changed — from one energizing to someone who prefers an independent course of action — to a more compliance, rules-based day to day routine. In addition, he was increasingly left out of decision-making processes, which he has both an instinctive need for and was brought up believing people ought to include others when making choices.
Keep in mind this attendee had been successfully working 2.5 years on a really cool project. Attending the course providing time to think, share his story, and after the course share his findings as documented on his Action Plan, which was shared with his supervisor. That’s the best part of the story - finding the courage to share who one really is and what genuinely motivates us.
Guess what happened? Hint: His new supervisor is a good leader.
After reassignment to a new project, and to a new sponsor, which his company generously accommodated, he was introduced as a new member of the leadership team on the first day. A direct quote from the attendee’s email:
“This is unique in that project managers are usually not included that way with senior leaders' direct reporting groups. In our first leadership team meeting, he must have asked me 10 times what my opinion was and what strategies I thought the team should consider. OK... I am SO happy. You already know how E2L [this type of sharing works], but I thought you would appreciate the recent, specific example.”
What’s may we take away from this story? When we take the time to honestly assess ourselves, and create an environment where others may do the same, we can create a very motivational environment.
Not surprisingly, here’s the closing part of his email:
“Next steps for me...
I go to corporate headquarters next week. I will be doing planning sessions and team building exercises with my new leadership team. And, I will get to meet my future project team members.
My plan is to share my leadership philosophy with the leadership team. In addition, I will meet with each of my new management peers and fill out the Motivation Assessment form. The idea is that I want to improve my relationships with peers better than in the past. I do well with my reports and further up the org chart - but my detractors are typically peer managers at my level. We will be doing a major organization change effort over the next year, so I want to develop really strong and positive relationships with the other managers this time around.”
Think about that. This isn’t about pay raises or foosball tables in the break room. It’s about learning what makes other’s tick. How well do you really know yourself? Can you recall the last time you finished a work day more energized than when you started? What happened that particular day? More importantly, do you know your team members that well?
Can’t wait for the next coaching session to learn what happens next.
Great leaders create an energizing environment.