It would seem to me that a leader should have many friends. They may not be "best friends"...they may not hang out together on weekends...they may not vacation together...but there should be a number of people leaders can call at any time for a "pick-me-up" or a boost of energy or a good shoulder to cry on. I believe leaders have friends because leaders are people who are INTERESTED rather than INTERESTING (those words came to me via a new friend). As a leader, you know how important it is to ask questions of others - about what they do...about new ideas...about the way things are. When you ask questions, you get information, which you as a leader then use to do new and cool things (that sounds a lot like Tom Peters - not a friend, but someone I like to read). And when you are interested, it makes the other person interesting, which soon makes them a friend.
I have had the wonderful opportunity of talking with or about some of my friends over the past few days. If you don't mind I would liek to share them with you (and maybe they'll become your friends - if you care enough to be interested in them):
Nancy Schill - Nancy is the owner and director of Executive Intelligent Coaching, a service that helps people move to that next step in their lives. Nancy has become a friend by coaching some of our students at Concordia University Texas. We are working together to find a way to help young people transition from school to career in a postive manner that builds their confidence and abilities to cope with the changes. The other day Nancy stopped by and filled me with confidence and hope.
Amar Ramakrishnan - Amar is a very new friend of mine, as he recently joined the Advisory Board for Concordia's College of Buisness. Because Amar is so passionate about what he does, he met with me to ask how he could better help our students. After a good cup of coffee at Starbuck's we came away with a bunch of new and cool ideas (there it is again) to help students connect their classroom learning to the real world.
Jeff Sandefer - if you have not yet met or heard of Jeff, you are in for a treat when you finally get to meet him. Jeff helped to found the Acton MBA Program here in Austin which trains men and women to become amazing entrepreneurs. His philosophy and method of teaching absolutely blows me away - and anytime I need a new idea for the classroom, I visit with Jeff. It has been awhile since we have seen each other, but next Wednesday I get to visit with him and a whole bunch of his friends at one of his "salon dinners." That's another reason leaders have so many friends - they love to network.
Ron Kessler - Ron was introduced to me several years ago through our President Dr. Tom Cedel. Ron runs The Kessler Group, a consulting firm here in Austin that helps people grow their businesses. He is an excellent coach and an amazing person. We talk about business, leadership, and church growth whenever we are together (he is a member of Mesa Community Church where his son Matt is the pastor). Ron is also the chair of our Business Advisory Board.
So who are your friends? Pause for a moment and consider these people as true treasures in your life - people who inspire you, think like you, and are also committed to your mission and vision. If you haven't talked with them in awhile, set up that appointment right now...and don't forget to make new friends (but keep the old...one is silver and the other gold).