Howard Tech will soon be celebrating our 9th birthday and we’ve been transitioning for years from a “make things up as we go” startup to a company built on process, best practices and scale. From the beginning, Patrick and I have desired to empower our team to make decisions (and the associated mistakes) so that the company doesn’t need to revolve around us. Of course there have been many bumps along the way, but we have made steady progress toward developing others and letting go of centralized control.
Building effective leaders has been a critical component of our vision, and so we’re doing a variety of things to that end. Seven of us recently attended the 2018 Global Leadership Summit. The GLS is annual event delivered by the Willow Creek Association, and I’ve attended many of these events over the years. Given our leadership development goals and my background with the GLS, I knew it would be a great opportunity for Howard Tech leaders to grow and learn together. The GLS brings together strategic thinkers from the business and non-profit communities in a two day format to share on a variety of topics. We were drinking from the fire hose!
Since we have returned, we have reviewed the content outline from the Summit, and are beginning an intentional plan to focus on one topic for the next few weeks. Juliet Funt is CEO of Whitespace at Work and her message really resonated with our team. Specifically we’ve chosen “WhiteSpace” as our focus, where we will be working on strategies to reduce noise, distraction and clutter from our days at Howard Tech. I didn’t say “eliminate,” as that’s unrealistic in the service world. I’m also not talking about our Service Desk, as we don’t have the luxury of telling our clients to stop calling us! Rather we will begin by focusing on our leaders, how we might work smarter, with greater focus.
Craig Groeschel of Life.Church opened the Summit by sharing “When the leader gets better, everyone gets better.” I’ve since spent a lot of time thinking about that simple statement as it really resonated with me. If a teacher or football coach or business executive is learning and growing and developing (getting better), then it stands to reason that her or his team will also improve. It challenged me to consider if and how I’m growing. What have I been learning? What new skills am I gaining, or how am I more effective in my leadership than I was last year? Am I different today, and if so – how?
I want to be better, and am challenging myself and the Howard Tech leadership team to be better. If Groeschel is right, then our team will be better. If that happens, our service to our clients, our effectiveness and ultimately our bottom line will improve. For now, we’ve decided to focus on WhiteSpace and reducing the noise. Once we move through that content over the coming weeks, we’ll move onto another area where the team wants to improve together. I don’t have the time or focus to individually work with everyone on our team, so have chosen to make a weekly habit of walking through this content with our leaders. Again, ‘when the leader gets better, everyone gets better.’