A spark of excitement always hits when I make connections between a concept manifest in various contexts.
This afternoon I was privileged to participate in an event with President Kim Clark, BYUI president and former dean of the Harvard Business School. He facilitated a wonderful discussion around defining direction as a leader. He modeled the principles proffered by both the audience and his preparation. The thoughts shared centered around cultivating an open environment, framing the context, inviting participation, and empowering others.
The spark moment did not come until I jumped on the bus to return home. A unlikely candidate surprised me by exhibiting all the leadership qualities modeled so well just a half an hour ago by a renowned business leader. The culprit behind the surprise was none other than the bus driver himself. With his heavy Hispanic accent he announced that there was a significant delay on the freeway, presented some options, solicited feedback and participation, and adjusted the route home. I felt committed and responsible because my opinion was included in the making of the final decision.
It turns out that the alternate route wasn’t much faster than the backed up freeway. I admit that I winched a little when other passengers would glance in my direction. I was one of the first to speak up in the open environment. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reflected on what was taught and observing the salient principles play out in a very ordinary occurrence.
Adventures in leadership are often wonderful journeys. Enjoy the ride!
Class in a virtual world like WoW was a unique experience but not without it’s own hiccups. All the cues I had indicated that I was fully present with the cadre. Yet, no one seemed to respond to anything I typed. Try as I might I could not participate and because of the limited means for communicating (text only and strange avatar body language). Had I been tipped off earlier it would have been a much more enjoyable experience.
The environment was immersive. I noticed that my attention was rivetted on what was going on. Other cadre mates were dancing or laying down, a random player came bouncing by and laughed that we were trying to have class. The ambient sounds and the occasional laugh really helped me feel a part of the exchange. Even the proximity of other cadre mates affected my emotions and reactions.
I was terribly frustrated with the chat mechanism. I had to click the chat area each time it lost focus. Frequently I would type not knowing my focus had left the chat area and the keys I hit would trigger all the other shortcut windows within WoW.
Overall, I was able to focus on the discussion at hand, truly consider my response to the intriguing questions, and appreciated the feeling that I had just spent quality time with the cadre. Now I am left to wonder how I could encourage virtual meetings among a very conservative organization. 😉
This morning I have been thinking about the original purpose of the LDSLeader environment to be created to directly deal with significant business challenges facing the business side of the LDS Church. I thought of a conversation I had about a father and his efforts to prepare his children to be leaders in their own homes. His comment stuck me. It was simple. He said he tries his best to be an example of leadership in the home. My mind then went to my own experience with the new http://mormon.org site. It presents examples of Mormons under the title Our People. I wondered what our LDSLeader site could gain from a section labeled Our Leaders.
If authority of example is so compelling and powerful why not feature exemplary leaders at all levels? Participation in the mormon.org initiative is impressive. Two thousand profiles compiled before launch and 13,000+ in the queue shortly thereafter. One of the biggest hurdles I see is helping people to use an online format to share observations, examples and feelings. But it obviously can be done. The cognitive surplus certainly continues to manifest itself with in the mormon.org invitation.
Examples of LDSLeader sharing online would be personal reflections of situations where a principle of the pattern for leadership played out. This would take the shape of a leadership journal. To me, it sounds a lot like the action research I am beginning now in conjunction with a masters in learning technologies at Pepperdine. I am uncertain as to how I encourage others within my organization to also engage in their own action research as they strive to become a leader in their current role. I think of my own conversion to sharing more of myself online and it was not easy. I recall wanting to participate in the discussion so badly that I finally overcame my anxiety and accepted that my identity was still emerging and that it was ok NOT to have myself figured out entirely. I told myself that identity-shaping would come more and more as I involve myself in those communities I desire to belong and contribute to.
The term social artist has really struck me. I knew that the LDSLeader initiative would benefit greatly if I could connect others and help them share and collaborate. I see a continual leadership journal as an extraordinary way in which examples of leadership can be shared in caring relationships and extended to countless others through the use of a simple technology: a blog. Now for crafting the environment to foster that type of sharing! 😀