By Tasha M. Troy
Last week I attended a briefing at a local think tank dedicated to international security issues. It was an update and overview of the Coast Guard delivered by the commander of the Coast Guard.
While I learned several interesting things about the work and challenges of the Coast Guard, what really struck me was how well-spoken the admiral was. He gave a clear briefing and answered a number of questions, all without consulting notes.
I know from experience that deep knowledge of a topic doesn’t automatically translate into strong presentation skills, and it was clear to me that he had developed his public speaking skills over a period of time. I suspect he began working on those skills long before he achieved his position as commander of the Coast Guard, a position that I can imagine requires a lot of public speaking.
Hindsight in a Foresight Position
Long ago when I was in college, a wise man once told me to have “hindsight in a foresight position.” We all know the saying that hindsight is 20/20; his challenge was to imagine what we wanted to remember at the end of any particular season. This concept has stayed with me my entire adult life and has helped to fuel my success.
Many times when I’ve been training people in leading discussions and meetings, I’ve gotten a lot of pushback. The participants say things like, “I’m not going to be leading meetings; I don’t need to know this.” My response is always the same: “You never know where life is going to take you.” Anything less comes across as short-sighted.
A quick Google search shows that somewhere around 60-80% of new managers fail to some degree. This tells me that they – like most of us – failed to prepare for future possibilities until the future became the present. When the opportunity presents itself, it is too late to begin preparing.
Even I didn’t do so well in my first leadership positions, and there was no one to help me figure out what I was missing. This was one time my “foresight” failed me. I didn’t know leadership was something that could be studied and applied. Now I know better and invest time and energy in preparing for what’s next, even if I can’t see clearly what that might be.
Benefits of Personal Leadership Development
John Maxwell says that the measure of leadership is influence. I have found that as my leadership skills have improved, the influence I have on those around me has increased.
- It has changed the way I approach teaching my classes and interacting with those who report to me.
- It has enabled me to see when a work environment no longer serves me, nor I it.
- It has opened opportunities for me to coach friends and family through big life decisions.
The only downside I have found is that I now live with an increasing tension between who I am becoming and how others perceive me. They don’t always line up, and I tend to get impatient as I experience growing pains. However, I know this tension keeps me moving in the direction of my dreams and goals.
Take It Deeper
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week. You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net
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