Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
It’s unique but it’s global. The differences are much less than you might imagine. During our Leadership and Personal development class in Italy, we heard the stories from two Italian leaders. As I sat and listened to both of them I was struck by the comparison in their messages with the leaders who have spoken to other MBA classes in the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. It really doesn’t matter where you are living and working; or where you’ve been raised. The messages are the same.
Marco Scippa, HR Director Imaging at Vitec Group talked about moving his family around—and the positive impact that those moves had on his family. He believes their quality of life was more interesting because they moved around. One of the things that I really appreciated about Marco’s message was his time in Moscow, Russia. Rather than live in the ex-pat village outside of Moscow, he and his family instead chose to live in Moscow, amongst the natives. They wanted to be immersed in the culture and the language. He said that his kids continue to be better at speaking Russian than he is!
Marco’s first message was that strong leaders capture the minds and hearts of their people.
Marco’s rules of leadership are:
- Be curious
- Get out of your comfort zone
- You must be able to communicate
- It is more important what we do than what we say
Our other speaker was Luca Semaniti. At the young age of 38, Luca is the Founder and co-Partner of Ideal Work, S.l.r. which provides products, tools and training for the Decorative concrete industry in the USA, Europe and Asia. Luca takes his definition of leadership from the landmark book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. A leader is, “Someone who blends genuine personal humility with intense professional will. Somebody ambitious for the company and not for his Ego. Modest and wilful Shy and Fearless.”
“Early on, I didn’t want to be a leader, because I didn’t understand what leadership was really about. Leadership was a scary word for me.” He shared the five myths of leadership that he had to overcome:
- A leader is a Man
- A leader is POWERFUL and he knows what to do
- A leader has a BIG EGO
- A leader is a little bit arrogant
- A leader is a CHIEF
Luca talked about the importance of self-knowledge when it came to developing his leadership skills. He said the self knowledge was like someone said to him “Here is a box—you already have what you need to be a leader.”
Luca reinforced for the class that leadership is about our relationship with other people and our family. Like many other MBA speakers, he strongly encouraged the students to look for leadership experiences in other areas of their lives.
Thank you to Marco and Luca for sharing your stories with our students—and me. I am continually inspired by stories of people committed to their leadership journeys.
Would you like to be notified the next time I post a blog? Sign up for our blog emails and happy reading!
Posted in Communication, Global Leaders, Leadership Advice, MBA Class, Self-Awareness | No Comments »
“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear; so you can see what you don’t want to see; so you can be what you’ve always wanted to be.” (Tom Landry, former coach of Dallas Cowboys)
I’m learning more about coaching all over again. Last fall I began working with a personal trainer in order to improve my physical strength and to become healthier. In addition to the personal benefits gained, the process has solidified the value of the coaching process I use with my clients.
The training process with trainer Dave began with measuring weight, body fat and various body measurements. Yes, I was shocked to hear that while my overall weight wasn’t out of line, my body fat percentage was 31.5%, which put me in the 28th percentile for women my age. Wake up call—I’m ready for change!
The next step was to discuss my goals. Dave was great at helping me gain clarity about my goals—and where I wanted to be. For me, it wasn’t just about weight loss, but more about reducing body fat and also gaining muscle. My goal was to reduce my body fat percent to a very healthy 18%.
With the measurements and goals established, the hard work began. For me, that was three times a week training with Dave and three times a week of cardio and abs on my own. I also was diligent about my eating and kept a daily food diary.
This entire process has been a perfect reflection of the leadership development model I use. It begins with the realization that leadership is a measurable, teachable, and learnable set of skills. But just like weight loss, you don’t learn about it from reading a book—you learn—and make changes in your life by measuring, setting goals, and going out and practicing.
Step one in the leadership development process is to define your current reality (what are my strengths and weaknesses; how do others see me as a leader, etc). For many of my clients, we use a 360 leadership assessment to assist with this step. Results of the 360 assessment vary by client, but I will say that some clients receive the same type of wake-up call as I did with my body-fat percent. “You mean I’m NOT as good a leader as I thought I was?”
Step two in the process is to define our “ideal self”: how do we want to be seen as a leader? While step one requires a great deal of willingness to receive feedback from others; step two requires self-reflection, a willingness to dream, and to challenge ourselves to be our best.
And then the hard work begins. You know, I’m just like many other people. I was wondering why I couldn’t just get healthy without having to do all this hard work? Isn’t there a pill I can take and be done with it?
No pill for me—and no quick and easy pill for strengthening your leadership skills. Once you’ve defined your current reality and ideal self, it’s time to develop a plan and begin practicing new skills. Practice…practice…adjust as necessary…keep practicing. You won’t do everything perfect; that isn’t the goal. The goal is to continue on the path and to learn from your mistakes. (You mean I can’t have a large piece of chocolate cake and 2 glasses of wine for dinner and wonder why my energy level is so low??)
In my ten years of coaching others, I’ve witnessed other people create sustainable positive change in their lives and work. A short list of accomplishments includes:
- Improving listening skills (which helps both personally and at work)
- Gaining clarity on personal mission and vision and values
- Learning to better delegate
- Learning skills for leading change
- Exercising more self-regulation during challenging situations.
- Improving Emotional Intelligence skills
- Improving skills for visioning which in turn led to promotions to higher levels in the organization.
- And many more.
None of the above happened overnight. Leadership development is a journey. It requires an accurate assessment of current reality, defining your ideal self, establishing a plan of action, and then an ongoing commitment to practice and adjust as necessary.
Oh, and for me…I reached my goal. During my check-in last week, my body fat percent was 17.8%. Even though I’ve reached my goal, I’m continuing my commitment to my personal health, including healthy eating, exercise and continued work with my trainer. Thanks Dave!
“What caused the shift?” I asked.
“We took time to pause,” he said.
I was talking with a friend who is leading a multi-national team in launching a new product. One year into the project he noticed that key relationships had not really been forming as he had hoped among members of the team. And so, he did the only thing that seemed natural in the midst of a time-sensitive project: he created an opportunity for the team to pause.
Well, not exactly I guess, but what they did was commit an entire afternoon of their 3 days together to having in-depth and cross-cultural disucssions about themselves–not about the product–and not about their roles in the project. No, the time was spent in getting to know one another on a more personal basis.
His experiment was hugely successful as the team built stronger relationships, which in turn is helping to move the project forward on schedule.
In his Peace Prize acceptance speech, “A Call for Universal Responsibility”, the Dalai Lama says, “Because we all share this small planet, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. That is not just a dream, but a necessity. We are dependent upon each other in so many ways that we can no longer live in isolate communities and ignore what is happening outside.”
“Life is not tried; it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire.”
From the song “Standing Outside the Fire” by Garth Brooks
“Are you willing to be unimportant and insignificant?” It was a straightforward question from a friend of mine. During a lunch conversation this summer he asked me those words. I stopped for a minute and told him that I honestly didn’t know the answer - which made it a great question. And I needed that kick in the pants to remind me to stay true to myself, even during times when I might not be taking a popular position on an issue.
Colleagues and friends who challenge me with tough questions are an important part of my leadership growth process. This past spring as I was preparing for my Vision Quest, I noticed that I was experiencing a disconnect from the community of women who share that experience with me. The women are located primarily in the Porland, Oregon area, so it was easy for me to blame geographical distance as the reason why I wasn’t feeling connected with them.
During a conversation with my teacher I shared my frustrations. She asked me if I would be willing to speak with some of the women and ask them what I was doing that contributed to the disconnect. OUCH! You mean that I have to ask people for feedback about how I might be responsible for the experience that I am having? I swallowed the lump in my throat and agreed to make those phone calls.
And so I did. Initially I asked them how I showed up that caused distance with each of them. While I had difficulty at times hearing some of the feedback, I stayed open to hearing from each of the women. I heard from some who said that I showed up as cold and unempathetic; judgmental, and withholding of feelings. Another said that I was more of a taker than a giver. Another said that she found a comment I made at the end of our ceremony last year to be judgmental and arrogant.
I took all of their feedback to heart and began working with even more awareness to be more open and less harsh with my comments. I expressed gratitude to each of the women who opened up and helped me to learn. In the process I also found myself feeling a great deal of excitement about going to camp and seeing all of them and fully opening to their support.
If that sounds painful to you, you’re right. As I listened to the feedback, I felt hurt, anger, shame and probably more. But I also felt hope. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for having women in my life who were willing to be honest with me in order to deepen our relationship and help me to grow. Those same conversations also helped us to build a stronger community. The experience I had this past summer on my Vision Quest was a deeply spiritual healing on many levels and I am quite certain that healing would not have happened had it not been for the conversations I had prior to going to camp.
Consider these questions as a starting point for your own journey into getting candid feedback:
1. If I were guaranteed honest responses to three questions, whom would I question and what would I ask?
2. What are my goals when I converse with people? What kinds of things do I usually discuss? Are there other topics that would be more interesting?
3. What am I pretending not to know?
4. When was the last time I confronted someone at work or at home about his or her behavior and ended the conversation having enriched the relationship?