6 Leadership Lessons from the Park

Who doesn’t want to know the secret to SHINE personally and professionally?  When it comes to leadership we often hold it up as a ‘designation’, a set of letters for someone way up the corporate ladder to place behind their name.  Well, we regularly remind people that that’s not true at all.  We all have a role to play both personally and professional to lead.

Some will argue that leadership is taught, others that leadership is inherent in genetics.  I believe that we all have the capabilities to lead, but rather it is a CHOICE as to what we do with those capabilities.  In fact, it’s a powerful choice.  I think that over time we as adults are subjected to situations in which we are clouded or subjected to complacency and exposed to so many alternative choices that we permit ourselves, as well as others to choose ‘hide and cower’ alternatives.

So what exactly are you talking about??  At the park this evening with my children and dog, I witnessed some of the most incredible acts of leadership. 

leadership lessons from the parkI witnessed 7 children (not all mine) rally together to make one of the grandest spring canal and trench systems that you have ever seen.  The process by which these children proceeded to build as a team, was incredible.  John Maxwell and Jack Welsh would be proud.

  1. The children quickly and effortlessly gathered around a common purpose.  They were there to have fun, and build the "world's biggest river system".
  2. The value set was immediately established - your typical playground rules, no throwing sand, no splashing "because then my mom will be angry that I'm all muddy."
  3. They frequently discussed and were inspired by the grandeur of a canal network that emcompassed the entire sand area at the park.  They discussed how amazing it will be to build out to every corner of what was approximately a 30m by 30m play area enclosed with wooden beams.
  4. The children quickly mobilized as a complete unit.  They rolled up their sleeves, tucked their pants into their boots, and began digging with everything they could.  They trenched with their feet, their hands, sticks, and one child even used a rock.
  5. They all worked diligently.  Not one of them suggested a foreman, a manager, team leads, nor other designations and titles.  However, they all were empowered to take a role that they inherently knew was their strength.  They all seemed to know what those strengths were without having to go through a formal evaluations process.  It all seemed to be very natural and effortless to them, some trenched, some build dams, while a couple transported water.  
  6. They celebrated success along the way, as they gave each other high-fives, and shouted as they connected one canal to another and the water rushed through the trench.

All this activity went on effortlessly and without arguments or disagreements, and most impressively; no time was lost.  In fact, they managed to scale their team.  They began as 2 and grew to a team of 7 by the time it was time to go home for dinner.  Remember no one was given a title of recruiter either.  Why?  Everyone involved was having a blast, and they accomplished their mission while doing so.  All those looking on wanted to be a part of that amazingly fun accomplishment.  Who wouldn’t??

Those children walked out of the park with their rubber boots, sandy hands, and heads held high.  Have you ever noticed that children carry pride well?  It’s obvious in the position of their head and the swagger in their walk.  They were drenched in a sense of pride and accomplishment, and man those smiles were massive!

If you’re looking for a Leadership 101 refresher, I’d encourage you to hit a play park, and hey…you’ll get out and enjoy a great walk and the beautiful big blue sky too.  All are sure to make you smile and recharge you.  After all, it is a choice.

Then be sure to let me know what Leadership Lessons from the Park you pick up, I always love hearing about how you SHINE today.

Monica :)