“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.” – John C. Maxwell
Prior to participating in our Leadership Challenge Workshop, the truth behind John Maxwell’s quote was easy to miss. Plenty of times leading up to the workshop I heard other team members question their abilities, positions, and freedoms to lead because we were misguided by titles, roles, and structures.
At the heart of The Marketing Squad are 8 core values. Our leadership team created them a few years ago to act as guides for everything we do as a company and as a team. Overtime they have been ingrained in our day-to-day life. Some are easier than others to integrate into our actions and reflect in our words – strategic doers, passionate storytellers, creative problem solvers, trusted allies.
Being servant leaders, on the other hand, can raise hesitations. For our team, the “servant” part comes fairly natural, we are committed to serving our clients above and beyond, and we are committed to being for each other as teammates. It’s often the “leadership” aspect of being servant leaders that feels foreign. Practically, we have a relatively flat structure, and some people may not feel like they are positioned to “lead” in their daily work. Beyond that, some people simply don’t consider themselves someone with leadership experience or ability.
Thankfully, disciplined learners is also one of our core values, and we are always looking for opportunities to improve what we do and who we are.
Bryce, foundering partner and Chief Storyteller, had actually begun his own personal leadership journey last year, which led him to a relationship with Leadership Reality. Through his partnership with Leadership Reality, Bryce has been working on his own leadership philosophy and ability. He even wrote a recent blog about 10 leadership philosophies he’s developed over time.
As a part of their mission, Leadership Reality doesn’t stop with personal development, but instead believes in integrated leadership between individuals, corporations, and teams. And that is what led our team to participate in a Leadership Challenge Workshop. The workshop is based on the book The Leadership Challenge, written by James Kouzes and Barry Posner who conducted over 30 years of research.
A few weeks before the workshop, our team began preparing by filling out Leadership Practices Inventory self-assessments and assessments for other team members. It was difficult at times, yet stirring, to evaluate the way we and others lived out leadership behaviors. And the results we got back a few days before the actual workshop were both humbling and encouraging. During the workshop, these results guided our conversations and pointed to places where we could improve.
The Leadership Challenge began bright and early at an off-site location. The day kicked off with an introduction of the 5 pillars of leadership outlined by James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their research:
- Model the Way
- Inspire a Shared Vision
- Challenge the Process
- Enable Others to Act
- Encourage the Heart
Throughout the day we went through each pillar in more detail, reflected on our strengths and weaknesses, and discussed tangible ways we could become stronger, well-rounded leaders. I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details of the day – not because I couldn’t write paragraphs more about how impactful each activity was, but because there is nothing like experiencing the challenge yourself.
Personally, I felt extremely compelled to grow as a leader. The workshop even debunked some of my own assumptions about my leadership skills. The workshop helped me see that I needed to develop my own leadership philosophy and establish my own vision for the future. It also showed me that I had to be better at encouraging and praising others for their hard work.
I could go on at length about the impact of the day and the tangible goals I left with, but instead of starting my monologue, I asked other team members for their key takeaways from the day.
Our team’s takeaways from the Leadership Challenge Workshop
“I think the biggest benefit to our team participating in the Leadership Challenge Workshop was that we acquired a common framework for measuring our individual leadership effectiveness. Now that we have a standard set we can hold each other accountable to develop as leaders and influencers. Personally, for me, going through the exercise of determining our individual core values was energizing. Putting words and definitions to what drives me will help to clarify my personal mission and hopefully help me be a better husband, father and team member.” – Kevin, Director of Partner Marketing/Creative Director
“I had several takeaway items that have stuck out in my attempt to always grow, as a Leader. However, one item that has struck me was to step back and let others have a voice in a process. Sometimes the best ideas are from the quietest voice, and they can be simple solutions.” – Billy, Chief Operating Officer
“My biggest takeaway from the Leadership Challenge was realizing that everyone, including myself, is a leader in our organization. It was an empowering experience to hear such encouraging feedback from my coworkers on how they would like to see me grow in my role as a leader.” – Michalah, Content Manager
“The way they structured the training encouraged all of us to share and listen to one another as well as verbally encourage each other. That always lifts me up. I also felt like I left with specific personal challenges and the steps to work towards them.” – Alea, Director of Partner Marketing
“It was a good place and time to facilitate conversation that may not have otherwise happened.” – Taylor, Media Designer
“The Leadership Challenge workshop was fantastic for me, personally and professionally. I felt very encouraged by my team and empowered to be a better leader. In just one day, our team was greatly strengthened and we all walked away with a fresh awareness of where we need to grow in our area of leadership.” – Courtney, Director of Partner Marketing
“Leadership is about looking ahead to what the future holds and inspiring others to be at their best. It requires us to make the choice to model the way by continuing to improve ourselves, encouraging others to stretch and grow, and recognizing the accomplishments of others in our organization.” – Sarah, Office Administrator
“The biggest win for me in the Leadership Challenge workshop was the chance to creatively recognize team members throughout the day from the table of trinkets. I established a clear traction plan for an area where my perception didn’t align with my assessments from team members. Most areas were in alignment but recognition of others was in fact one of the areas where I need to grow.” – Bryce, founding partner and Chief Storyteller
“My biggest takeaway from the Leadership Challenge Workshop was the benefit of vulnerability. It brought a sense of community when we were encouraged to share in front of the group. I had the realization of the growth that is possible when you step out of your box and lead.” – Spencer, Marketing Coordinator