Another saving piece of luck might well have been horses, a thread of interest that has woven through my life. Despite growing up in the city my mother’s stories suggest I have been passionate about horses longer than I remember. After years of pleading, at age ten my first horse entered my life, Joey was love at first sight.
Many years have gone by since that passionate embrace, and horses continue to be a saving grace and influence in my life. Through horses I have learned more about myself then any personality profiling tool could offer. It was however a comment by a peer following a recent session that has me thinking on where my other influences come from. She immediately recognized my 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 has 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 obviously capturing highlights and points of passion 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 was brilliant in validating what was said to get a group to leave completely fulfilled and ready to move forward.
A second leader of influence in my career would be Dave who I worked with in the Hot Pools Business Unit at Parks Canada. His impact through The Natural Leader programs is reflected when we inquire about the qualities of a leader you most admire. Inevitably the discussion turns to remembering those individuals by how they have made you feel. Dave was one of those people whose skill truly lies in helping you see the best in what you already have. Dave was amazing at offering the right words when you were uncertain as to whether you had the knowledge to move forward. It was as if he simply saw you by your ability, what you could achieve and had yet 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.