As my husband, Dean, and I were out snowshoeing today, I began to think of the leadership lessons I was learning during our cold yet refreshing one hour adventure. There are commonalities among the two. Let me share my thoughts on this, and then please share yours in the comments… 🙂
Leaders Offer Resources: I do not own a pair of long johns or a pair of wool socks. My hubby had extra of both and was willing to allow me to borrow them both so I could go snowshoeing in below zero wind chill temps. Employees don’t always have the necessary resources they need. Fabulous leaders offer the resources available that assist their people to become equipped to take on the task at hand and succeed. Great leaders offer their people essential resources.
Leaders Offer Support: My snowshoes were not fitting correctly. My husband showed me how to tighten the straps so the shoes wouldn’t fall off. He also showed me where the ball of my foot should hit when I’m walking, which I had no idea about even though I’ve been snowshoeing for years. He even told me WHY the ball of the foot is supposed to hit that certain spot. I get confused about which foot goes on which shoe so Dean shared his secret to remembering which one goes on which foot. Dynamic leaders offer the same kind of support to their administrative team, their faculty, and their staff. Leaders demonstrate the HOW and the WHY to the people they lead. Leaders share ideas that have worked for them to become awesome so their people can also become awesome.
Leaders Offer Freedom: After my husband offered the support I needed, he gave me the freedom to ‘do my thing.’ He knew I had the skills and abilities and willingness to snowshoe, so he let me exercise those skills and abilities (and what revitalizing exercise it was). He trusted me to use my talents to do the best I could while snowshoeing. Superb leaders offer their people the freedom to put their best foot forward and trust them to use those skills and abilities for the greater good of the students.
Leaders Offer Safety: When we first started out, we were walking side by side. The deep fresh snow was difficult for me to walk in so I let my husband go ahead of me. The wind was strong, so after about 10 minutes of watching him lead, I decided to put my head down and just follow the trail he was making. 🌬❄ A few places were tougher because the snow was deeper, but by him going first, this made it more doable for me. I knew he would keep me safe from any treacherous terrain. Outstanding leaders earn the trust of their people by going forward first and breaking trail. Leaders take the safest route for their followers. Not the easiest, the safest. It’s easy to trust and follow the direction leaders are going when its evident they have our best interest in mind.
Leaders Offer Reassurance: Since my husband was in the lead, he didn’t know if I was still following close to him or if I had fallen behind. On several occasions, he stopped and turned around to check on me. If I had lagged behind a little, he would wait for me to catch up and then turn back around and continue on. He didn’t have to say a word…he just turned around to make sure I was doing okay. I found this immensely reassuring, especially since it was now snowing and blowing. Caring leaders offer reassurance to those they lead. They will check in on their people often to make sure all is going well and to see if there is anything they can do to help; especially if times are tough for some reason.
Leaders Offer Do-Overs: If you know me at all, you know I love to take pictures. After we had been out for a little while, we stopped by an evergreen that would block the wind so I could take our picture. My glasses had steamed up and were full of ice so I had no idea if the picture turned out or not. We continued snowshoeing. At the end of our adventure, shortly before we reached our house, I asked if we could take one more picture just in case the first one didn’t turn out. My husband was a good sport and granted my do-over wish. Empathetic leaders offer do-overs to those they lead. There are many circumstances that can interfere with our ability to perform. Calling all leaders; whether you are a school board member, superintendent, principal, special education director, curriculum coordinator, instructional coach, teacher, volleyball/basketball/baseball coach, parent, grandparent, whomever you are; offer compassion and know we ALL want a second chance, we ALL want do-overs!
Regardless of the snow, wind, and cold, our snowshoeing adventure turned out to be invigorating! 🌨🌬❄☃ Leaders…want to revive and energize those you lead? Then offer them the resources, support, safety, freedom, reassurance, and do-overs they need to be revitalized. ☺💪👍🏂
Stay Calm & Go Snowshoeing!
Profs Dr. Wendy. & Dr. V.