Friday, December 11, 2009

what did you do today?

As I was driving home last night at 8:30 after a 14-hour day (I know, let the strings begin), I was reflecting on everything that had happened over that time span. I quickly realized that my day was a hodge-podge of assundry misscellaneous items which taken one-by-one seem trivial, but as a whole I think the mission actully moved forward yesterday. Here's a qick snapshot:
  • prepare for class
  • prepare for a faculty meeting
  • prepare for an afternoon "transformation" meeting
  • visit with a professor about a student issue
  • teach class (see above)
  • read an inapproriate email that I will need to address
  • go to chapel
  • lead a faculty meeting (see above)
  • exit interview with a graduating student
  • meet with the student about the issue (see above)
  • meet with the person about the inapproriate email (see above)
  • go to "transformation" meeting (see above)
  • meet with student about a new type of internship
  • empty out email box
  • visit with another Dean
  • attend basketball games

I'm exhausted reading that list - but here is what I see:

  • prepare for the day
  • get on with the day
  • note things that get in the way of the mission
  • refresh oneself
  • deal with things that get in the way of the mission
  • bring others along on the mission
  • dream about new ways of living out the mission
  • get ready for the next day
  • show your face and make connections

I think this is what leaders seems mundane, so it is very difficult to answer with any conviction what one "DID" during the day...but in reframing what one does in order to live out the mission, all of the items in which one engages can suddenly take on new meaning and become very important. After days such as noted above, I find myself tired BUT energized, bcause I know that WHAT I did was very important. As I look back on the day, I think it can be summarized in a few bullet points:

  • prepare to influence people
  • influence people
  • renergize yourself
  • influence more people

I think that might be the essence of leadership...agree?


kurt bennett said...

Don, do you define leadership as influence? And if you do, where did you come up with that definition?

BTW, my wife was born in Elgin.

Don Christian said...

Kurt - I teach that leadership is about two words: people and influence. Of coruse, the other aspect of that is that one needs to influence poeple toward something, i.e. shared goals. Most definitions of leadership include something about influence (Bennis, Kotter, Gardner, Burns).

kurt bennett said...

People and influence works for me. Have you read John Maxwell's definition? He has said that, "Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less." Have you read him? And if you have what do you think of his material on leadership?