Early on, I became a student of human nature. In my study, I saw the individual power one relationship can wield. In my experience the people we lead can actually impact us as leaders.
When I think of a powerful relationship that influenced my career and character as a business person, I am reminded of Doug Crane. Doug was my first coaching client and the person who helped shape the course of my consulting practice 22 years ago. While I was working as marketing manager for a thriving software company in the 80s, I hired Doug to help me market our software. I observed and admired the way Doug motivated others while building a successful business. As I shared my experience with Doug his feedback inspired more ideas. Ultimately, Doug’s presence in my life was the catalyst for leaving corporate job security and hanging my shingle as Briggs Consulting in 1989.
Once I launched my consulting business, Doug hired me to help him build shared vision within his company. As Doug unfolded his vision I came alongside him to help cast this vision and share it in such a way that it inspired those he led. As Doug trusted my counsel about leading others, he put those words into action with highly successful results. I may have been the most surprised by how successfully the V2A principles worked!
What did I believe qualified me for the task of helping Doug succeed?
I learned from my failures.
From my failures came my best lessons learned. Winston Churchill reminds us that “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” My enthusiasm for Doug’s success fueled my leadership ideas. From these lessons I crafted the foundations of my Vision to Action leadership model (V2A).
Young emerging leaders often confess their confusion as to what leadership really is: is it only burdensome and frustrating? Is it only for the truly gifted? What makes leadership doable? I remember wrestling with these questions in my childhood. I was the oldest of nine children and the role of “leadership” was thrust upon me. Not only did my siblings resent my leadership skills, I resented the responsibility and struggled with what “leadership” represented. Early on, I became a student of human nature. In this study, I saw the individual power one relationship can wield. As a growing professional in the leadership business, I experienced that power in one important relationship.
From Doug I learned three things about the power of influence and success in business:
Leaders are people who make things happen. Early in my coaching engagement with Doug, he hired me to help develop a shared vision for his company – to fully align his people with concepts. Can you imagine the confidence that gave me as a leader knowing how much he trusted me with his employees? From the beginning of our relationship, we both made things happen allowing the discovery process to remain. Making things happen didn’t mean we insisted on our own perspectives and agendas — that would be one-dimensional. Ours was a relationship where our views were tested and retested and tried until both of us landed on what works. Doug gave me the real world test of an idea that I had hoped would change the way leadership was done.
The result of my coaching enabled Doug to fully embrace his natural gifts as a leader. He now trusted his true leader nature. What he said matched what he would do. Doug understood this leadership process and I watched his business develop, thrive and grow.
Leaders choose to embrace their role. When Doug and I talked over several breakfasts, I realized I had a choice to make. His responses to my ideas fueled me to put them into action. As Doug aligned these business concepts with his team, the floodgates opened up for both of us. The more I chose to embrace my role, the more the principles developed that would later become part of the Vision to Action leadership model. As Doug’s company grew, I created what would later become principles for Visionary Leadership. Great leaders need a lot of support and we were committed to this high standard; once I realized what Doug was after and he captured what I was after, we embraced our separate leadership roles and never looked back.
Leaders see their current relationships as their reality. Doug was my current reality in 1990. Although I was coaching him, when I focused on him and his needs, when I lived in the present with him, both of our futures were impacted. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Once I launched my consulting business, Doug hired me to help him build shared vision with his company. So I came on board to help him take the vision he had and place it in the minds and hearts of his employees. Great leaders are continually learning to cast vision ~ “without a vision, people will perish,” reads a well-known Proverb. When your leadership is frustrating you and you are in dire need of direction, seek out your current reality relationships and recast vision with them. It may just change the course of your life.
Who are your current relationships? Do you see yourself learning from those who are in your charge? Can you see where your team can lead you, too?