Friday, March 11, 2011

speaking about leadership

This morning I am headed to the Northwest Rotary Club to speak on the topic of Moral Leadership. I was asked about several months ago by Dr. David Zersen to be their speaker for this meeting, and I gladly accepted for several reasons: 1) I get a chance to speak about my favorite topic: leadership; 2) I get an opportunity to talk about Concordia University Texas and especially about The Concordia MBA; and 3) I get a chance to hone my speaking skills. I have to make sure I finish this blog in time to get to the meeting by 7:00...

Whenever I get the chance to present to an outside group, there are several things that go through my mind:
  • how can I best market my school and program through this opportunity?
  • what is it that I want my audience to think, feel and act as a result of my talk?
  • what specific topic will best resonate with the group?
  • what can I address that might stretch me a little bit and help me learn?

One of the most difficult issues for me in public speaking is to be sure that I am doing this for the audience and not for myself. Last weekend I had the opportunity to work with the Board of Trustees from the Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest, assisting them with their strategic planning retreat at the Clifton Sunset Home (a great place where people are cared for at the ened of their lives). As I accepted the opportunity and spent time getting ready and then with the group, I had to remind myself that what I was doing was for them - to be there completely for them and not consider what this was doing for me. Personally, I get a lot out of speaking for groups or working with boards. Some of my personal takeaways include:

  • personal learning - I always learn more about the topic researched and the group I am with at the time
  • personal esteem - I always feel good after presenting to a group, especially if they tell me I did a good job
  • personal satisfaction - I really do like helping people learn and get better, so when my words or work can do that, I get great satisfaction
  • personal gain - sometimes I get paid to do these gigs; other times it is merely my reputation and the University's reputation that is enhanced
  • personal growth - each time I present I get a little better at the process of standing in front of a group and talking.

So what do I really want to see as a result of talking with others about leadership? Here are a few thoughts:

  • people thinking more deeply about leadership - when others consider the multidimensional sides of leadership, they walk away being more appreciative of the role that leaders have
  • people considering how they might lead - my talks are most centered on how to make people better leaders themselves and to consider their role as leader in multiple areas of their lives
  • people wonder how they might better serve their leaders - understanding the complexity of leadership might help others see what they can do to make life a little easier for the different leaders in their lives
  • people's leadership capacity is strengthened - nothing is more exciting than when someone approaches me after a talk and says "that's something I can use today in my own leadership."
  • the world is a little better off - I always hope that my talks will leave everyone more thoughtful, more considerate, more energized, and more willing to go and make the world a better place.

I am thankful for the opportunities I have to speak to groups. Over the past year, those opportunities have become more and more frequent, and I am realizing that perhaps God is beginning to use me in a new and exciting way. Speaking on leadership might just be that place where my passion and the world's great needs meet, something the Frederick Buechner says will bring great joy. I completely agree!

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