Thoughts on Life & Leadership

A Junto Strategy Project

Skiing & Leadership Development

skiing-family-fun-resort-chair-lift-headerOne of the things that I am noticing as I continue hip deep in my leadership development research and client work is that I find leadership lessons all around and in just about everything. Last week was no different.

On the first day of spring break last week, I took my sons skiing up to one of my favorite ski resorts in Utah. This is their first year skiing and they have loved it.

As we sat together on the lift heading up the mountain for another run, I had one of those aha moments. I reflected on my ski trips as a teenager and while in college and began to compare them to what I was experiencing at that moment with my boys. Back in the teenage and college years, skiing was all about me. It was about getting in as many runs as I could. It was about finding the best little spots to catch some air. It was about improving my skiing ability and challenging myself. Now there isn’t anything wrong with this. Because of that singular focus, I learned how to ski really well and came to love the sport. I developed “technical expertise.”

But as a dad, my focus has changed entirely. It has become a leadership focus. I wasn’t counting the number of runs, the quality of my back-scratcher or the challenging of my skills, rather it was on the boys I had on either side of me. My enjoyment and satisfaction was coming from watching them grow, in helping them develop their technical expertise, in finding fun little places for them to experience catching a little air (but not too much), in being aware of their needs.

In many ways, this journey for me is the road all great leaders must travel. Early in our careers we are rightfully focused on developing a level of technical expertise in a particular field and we gain great satisfaction from a job well done. But if we stop there we never develop into real leaders.

The transition to getting work done through others and realizing satisfaction from enabling them to do a job well is different. The work isn’t the same. I have watched many manager struggle with this transition of having their work and their focus shift from just “getting stuff done” to getting stuff done through others. The struggle, however, is worth it.

As much as I enjoyed those ski trips as a youth and young adult, none of those days compared to that feeling of satisfaction and joy I had as I watched two boys laugh and enjoy one great day on the slopes.

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