Lessons From Forum 2017

Last month I was part of The Leadership Challenge Forum 2017, this year’s annual conference focusing on the landmark work of authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. This was a special session, as it celebrated the 30th anniversary of this leadership methodology and the release of the newest version of the book, now in its 6th edition. No other leadership model comes close to being as researched and continually updated as The Leadership Challenge.  That is why people around the world count on this model as the template for effective leadership.

There were many lessons that came out of this conference, but one in particular really struck me. It was not the topic of a keynote speech or a breakout session. It just appeared from my observations of the interactions of everyone there. The lesson: Never underestimate the power of a shared vision.  Let me share why.

Sadly, our world today is a bit of a mess. It is filled with a lot of dissension, divisiveness, anger, and fear. There is much more shouting, grandstanding and bickering, than there is listening, questioning and understanding. It is happening between countries as well as within countries, as we in America know too well.

At the Forum, there were people from all around the world, with many deep differences. There were recognizable differences in ethnicity, race, gender and so forth. And there were less obvious differences in factors such as perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, values, and dare I say, even political persuasions.

Yet here is what I observed. All of these very different people were reaching out to help one another and to serve the entire community in attendance. They were generous in sharing their knowledge and quick to offer a helping hand. They coached and mentored each other. They gratefully listened to and welcomed the advice and wisdom of others. They laughed and broke bread together, hugged and applauded one another. They did this, in spite of all those real life differences.

For you see, there was one thing everyone had in common, and that was the shared purpose of liberating the leader in other people, through The Five Practices of The Leadership Challenge . Everyone there was committed to making the world, or at least their individually pieces of the world, a little better place through more effective leadership. And that made all the difference. The shared vision did not make the individual differences less important. It just helped everyone find a meaningful common ground that was worth collectively pursuing.

So leaders, given that people around us will always have plenty of reasons to disagree, the real challenge is to work on finding that dream that still brings them together to accomplish something great. Continue to find ways to give these people, differences and all, the opportunity to bring their hearts and talents to the table to make that dream happen.

 All the best.

Share Your Thoughts