Today I had the total privilege of attending the HTB (Holy Trinity Brompton) Leadership Conference at the Royal Albert Hall. My Church generously offered to take me as a bit of a last minute thing so it was a bit of a surprise. I was joining with about 5000 others to hear from a variety of leaders on their experiences and to learn from the best.
Now you may or may not know about my relationship with leadership. I feel like growing up I was put in positions of leadership without really realising what was happening. I think my personality potentially lends itself to leadership in the sense that I like meeting people and organising things. When I was in school I was elected Head Girl and at University I was a Captain, President and Vice President of different clubs/groups. Following Uni I was elected to be a student representative for student welfare issues and now I lead a team of youth workers. I find it difficult to remember a time when I haven't been a leader in some sense of the word.
However, have I ever really been trained in leadership? Well, maybe basic training but nothing particularly in depth or focused. I think to some extent we are all leaders. We all have influence, whether it's in our work place, or in our families or friendship groups - there are opportunities for leadership. My Church did a series in Sunday morning teaching on Leadership and I would really recommend listening to one of the talks entitled "Know Yourself" by Steve Tibbert - it's all about being self aware enough to know that how you see yourself is the same as how others see you.
This conference I was at today was fantastic at really getting to the nitty gritty of what is important in leadership. I listened to talks by Patrick Lencioni, Cardinal Schonborn, Eleanor Mumford, Ken Costa and the heads of a number of international multi-million pound businesses. They were all inspirational, engaging speakers who clearly have a wealth of experience, but essentially they were all saying the same thing.
Good leaders are real people. They are vulnerable with those they work with, can admit their mistakes and take responsibility for them. They are real.
It seems very simple.
And yet. It's hard!
The first speaker was this guy called Patrick Lencioni who was talking about the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. The first thing that you have to get right if you are going to have a productive team is trust. And trust can be hard to cultivate. Essentially trust only happens when people are open, honest and vulnerable. A lot of the time it needs to be the leader who initiates this.
So I want to be a good leader. I know that this is an area where I haven't necessarily focused my energies - but I can see that good teams only flourish when they have a good leader. But this means I need to be real - real with the things I struggle with/am scared about, real in relationships with team members, real with my opinions, real in dealing with conflict and making tough decisions.
I feel like I have absorbed loads that is still marinading in my brain, but for now this is what I am taking away and what I am going to try and work on.