A leader is best when people barely know he exists,
when his work is done,
his aim fulfilled,
they will say: "We did it ourselves".
Lao Tsu, Chinese Philosopher, (4th Century BCE)
For the past 25 years I have worked in a corporate environment, but I received the foundation of my professional leadership training while driving hippie tour busses around America. The continual stream of new people, locations, and situations forced me to identify the 'working principles' that governed the effective management of groups of people. For each new understanding there was a particular trip or interaction where that lesson was highlighted.<!% call buildIndexPageMenu("tortoise") %>
The Accidental Student
I rode a bus to get myself someplace new, not to learn about leadership. In the end I got both.
Shared Experience Builds Trust
When a group of strangers is thrown together in a foreign environment, a well-chosen team-building exercise can quickly build trust through shared experience.
Each Person Wants a Different Role
Everyone has things they'd rather be doing, but it may surprise you what those things are. Figuring out how to align individual desire and priority with team goals can bring surprising results.
Working Through Problems Brings The Team Together
Solving a problem together brings a team together. Successfully working through a small problem gives the team both the tools and the trust to take on bigger problems.
Teams Evolve in a Predictable Manner
Understanding the predictable process by which new teams come together and mature can show you how and when you can make the greatest positive impact.
What Do You Want to Say You Did?
Making decisions in a crisis is difficult, but learning how to pull your mind out of "crisis mode" to make those decisions will dramatically improve your effectiveness.
Dealing with Confrontation is About Finding Common Ground
During a personal confrontation the experience, goals, and perceptions of each player will act as either a moat or a bridge. Finding the bridges is the key to helping others find common ground.
Communication is NOT the Same as Understanding
Communication is about much more than talking. If you want to actually be understood, then it is up to you to find the right way to connect your meaning to your audience.
Learn to Speak the Language If Only a Little Bit
When in a foreign environment, it is the extent to which you demonstrate your effort to adapt yourself to the local customs on which you will be judged not on your mastery of them.
Put 'The Man' into Your Movie
We must all deal with those that have the power to block our progress. Learning how to effectively work with these people, rather than fight them, is the key to maintaining momentum.
The Vision Creates the Experience
In building something new, it is most often the intangible elements of clear vision and willing enrollment that bring success. When provided with these, people will improvise the rest.
Bringing It All Together
For every leader there is a moment when you realize that you have the power to positively impact the experience of others should you choose to use it.