go back home...

Leading From Within

I recently attended a leadership course offered by ExactTarget called Lead From Within. I did not know what to expect, so when they asked, "on a scale from 1 to 7, how useful to do you plan for this to be?" on the first day I had my doubts.

They said, "It is what you make it," and boy were they right. After finishing the first two days, I would rate this course a 10.

My Thoughts

I am glad I was one of the 130 people selected to attend, as this training was invaluable.

Over two days I learned a lot about leadership and myself. I mean a lot. I've been through a lot of leadership training prior (Boy Scouts and Fraternity), but this was, by far, the most valuable.

The big thing I noticed was that the concepts we learned were nothing new. They were common sense, but none of us were aware because we had not taken the time to look at ourselves and reflect on our actions.

It comes down to our habits. So, what are habits? Habits are "an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary." Hmm, that's interesting. So it's something we do often that we don't realize we're doing.

The training covered the 7 habits of highly effective people. I won't go into the 7 habits right now, but the gist is that we need to first realize who we are before we can contribute within teams. Simplified, we need to achieve private victories before we can achieve public victories.

One thing I took to heart was the fact that there are three stages of maturity. First, dependence is where you don't take responsibility for actions. It's a constant blame game with you avoiding responsibility. For example, a dependent person would say, "You didn't do this so I can't do that." Next, is independence and that's where you identify with yourself. You start using the word "I" instead of "you." Last, there is interdependence. This is where you realize there is something bigger than you. The word "we" becomes commonplace. This is super cool, and I didn't realize I was doing this until now. I use "we" in most of my communications and rarely pass blame. Good thing I'm on the right track.

We learned a lot of material, but if I blogged about it all the post would be never-ending, so I digress.

Over the next three months/the rest of my life I'll be looking at myself, continually trying to determine what can be better. It's going to be a fun/tough journey, but I can't wait to improve upon myself! Yes, I'm not perfect. Shocker right?!?

My Personal Mission Statement

Before I briefly describe the training, I want to share my personal mission statement. It's far from complete, but it's a start.

To continually improve myself, personally and at work while not forgetting about the balances between them. To be an expert in my field while helping others grow in their own right.

The Training

We were taught about Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was eye opening. I'll only touch on each habit briefly. If you want more info, I suggest reading his book.

Habit 1 - Be Proactive

Instead of being reactive, be proactive. Don't react based on moods, feelings, or circumstances. Take a deep breath and think it through based on the desired results. For example, instead of saying, "I can't" say, "Let's explore all the possibilities and see what we can come up with."

Habit 2 - Begin with the End in Mind

Define the desired outcomes before you being any task. Don't start the task and then decide what you want to achieve.

Habit 3 - Put First Things First

This is HUGE!! Determine what tasks are important and urgent. Those should be the first things you work on. Then determine what is important and not urgent. Those should be what you strive to achieve when you have time. Try to limit the things that are unimportant and urgent, and unimportant and not urgent. You shouldn't waste your time on unimportant and not urgent items. I'm guilty of this, and it's one of the things I'll be working hard on.

Habit 4 - Think Win-Win

Enter every situation with the mentality of win-win. How can we all work together to accomplish a common goal? Does this mean compromise? In some situations, yes, but in others there may be a way for everyone to come out ahead.

Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

This is so important. We need to LISTEN to people. Like, really listen. If you're thinking about something else while someone is talking, then you're not listening. If you don't understand the core message, how can you expect to continue down the correct path?

Habit 6 - Synergize

Find the strengths in others. Value people's/team's differences and try to seek alternatives that help all parties. The goal is to end up with a result that is better than what either party started with.

Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw

Don't forget to work on yourself or take "me" time. You cannot grow if you are not constantly questioning your behavior and actions.

Well, that's it for now. I can't wait to see what I can improve upon.

Quick shoutout to my table (BJ, Chad, Tove, Jason, and Lisa), and all the people I met during this training. You are all awesome!


I am a life-long learner, adventure seeker, and front-end developer for @ExactTarget