I have attended Leadercast for many years. Occasionally I miss one due to a scheduling conflict, but I have been to most. I have attended live in Atlanta many times, have done the Executive Experience a few times, and have also attended a simulcast in Asheville two times. My observation is that though some content remains excellent, there is less of it. I am not exactly sure when the downturn occurred, but the fact that the event is ending one hour earlier in the day the last two years (end time of 330P instead of 430 PM), and the pullout of John Maxwell, (last appearing a few years ago), may have much to do with it. Pricing has escalated for the Executive Experience in Atlanta, though regular attendance is still affordable. It is my observation that as Leadercast has searched for new speakers to provide content, it seems that perhaps they have lost sight of the fact that not every great leader of an organization is a great speaker about, and teacher of, leadership. The sweet spot for Leadercast and other leadership conferences seems to be to find speakers who do both well. I am afraid that with fewer hours being filled, the odds are greater that one or two speakers who lack that special quality to teach and convey leadership content have a greater likelihood of affecting the overall impact and effectiveness of the event; the kind of impact that causes an attendee to say: “I can’t wait for next year”.
Having said the above, two regular speakers, Andy Stanley and Dr. Henry Cloud, as well as new (non-regular) speaker Dan Pink, provided excellent content. Though I am not sure I would have encouraged all of my law firm attorneys to attend the whole day, I wish that they had been there to hear these three excellent speakers, discussing their insights on leadership, and specifically on the topic of “Purpose”. Here is some of what learned:
Andy Stanley – His session was titled “Powered by Purpose”. As usual he started the day off with a practical and informative overview of the topic for the day. His view is that purpose is a means to an end. Folks tend to ask themselves: Why am I here? And, what is my purpose? He believes that until we are willing to be a means to an end, we will not have true purpose. He pointed out that he believes that those who simply devote themselves to themselves will have nothing but themselves to show for themselves. The point of purpose is to determine how you will serve others, and if your plan does not include service of others, it does not have true purpose. He left us with three action points:
- Look at everything we do through the lens of “means”.
- Pay attention to what stirs your heart in struggling to discover purpose.
- Surround yourself with “on purpose” people
Dan Pink went on to discuss the two types of purpose. The first is with a big “P”. It is that big, transcendent thing that an organization strives for to make a difference in the world. The second type is with a little “p”. It is all about making a contribution on a daily basis. Leaders should want their people to have both of these questions answered:
- Am I making a difference?
- Am I making a contribution?
Dan left us with two action points:
- As we go about what we do, ask the people who we work with more questions about why, instead of how? Be more informative to them about the why of what they are doing, instead of just the how.
- Dan made the point that great leaders are a sentence. He used examples such as Lincoln and Roosevelt, and described what sentence probably defined each of them. He challenged us with: What is your sentence?
Dr. Henry Cloud gave his usual excellent Leadercast presentation. The conference started with defining purpose and discussing how it is cultivated in an organization. Dr. Cloud spoke about accountability. He discussed what works when it comes to accountability, what does not, and why it does not.
He said that Purpose requires:
- Engaged Talent
- Measurements and Accountability
- Fixing or Adapting to what is discovered in the process
The problem is that we are not all “10’s” as leaders in all of these things, and unless we have folks strong in all areas and hold them accountable, our organizations tend to look like the leader, and have the same strengths and weaknesses as the Leader has.
He stated that accountability in an organization is going to have certain characteristics:
- Clear agreed upon expectations
- When those expectations must be met (timing)
- How living up to expectations will be inspected
- Communication throughout the process