A Thread of Influence

No, I never owned a horse named Lucky. Though I often say “I am lucky with the parents I ended up with,” ¬†because one has little choice in that piece of destiny.

Another saving piece of luck, may well be horses. Despite growing up in the city my mother suggests my passion for horses extends longer than I remember. After years of pleading, my first horse entered my life when I was ten. Joey was love at first sight. Horses have been a thread of interest woven through my life.

Many years have gone by since that first embrace and horses continue to be an influence in my life. Through horses I have learned more about myself then any personality profiling tool could offer. It was a comment by a peer that had me thinking who else has influenced me. She immediately recognized the horsemanship influence but inquired as to who I modelled my leadership and facilitation skills after.

The question stumped me. While I have participated in many programs watching and listening closely to the facilitators “Did I reflect any of them?” to be honest I don’t think so. But the question reminded me of the leaders I have had the opportunity to work with and the qualities I admired in them.

There are two individuals who come to mind when I think of leadership influence. The first is Rick, from the planning group at Parks Canada. While he could sit in a meeting, seemingly uninterested or unengaged I have never yet met another person who could summarize and clarify a discussion better than he. All the while he appeared to me to be working on something unrelated, he was capturing highlights and points that carried through the discussion. When he spoke it was if he had summarized a two hour discussion in five or six key points, reflecting back to the group what was collectively said, felt or omitted. He brilliantly validated what was said and a group would leave completely fulfilled and ready to move forward.

A second leader of influence in my career would be Dave, during my time with the Hot Pools Business Unit at Parks Canada. I’d say he is reflected by the question “What qualities do you most admire in a leader?”

Dave had a knack for helping you see the best in what you already have. When you were uncertain as to whether you had the knowledge to move forward, he always offered the right words  It was as if he simply saw you by your ability, what you could achieve and had yet to learn.

I have had the opportunity to work with numerous other individuals who have given me reference points for what not to do in a leadership role and they stand in stark contrast to those I’ve mentioned. Experiences you don’t care to repeat but my interactions with them have certainly allowed for the empathy required when working with participants in our programs who might be in similar circumstances.

It was the sage wisdom of a business mentor who painted the first picture for me on The Natural Leader programs. She suggested that a good program is like a three legged stool miss one element and the stool won’t stand. She applauded the idea, provided suggestions for honing the content and encouraged me to continue to grow as a facilitator. Since that conversation I have had the great opportunity to work with some excellent facilitators and each and every session I learn and grow from these encounters. Do I reflect them? In some small way I hope so.

So for that question, thank you. I have had the great fortune to have met many wonderful people through my career and like the parents I ended up with lucky to have learned what I did from each of these individuals.

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