An Uncomfortable Post to Write

Last week, I shared a post about the importance of taking your shot. My goal with that post was to reach someone waffling on a decision and encourage them to take their shot. 

And now, I’m going to take another shot — even though it feels uncomfortable and awkward — and tell you about something I’m proud of and excited about. It feels odd and self-promotional (something readers of this blog know I avoid like the plague), but at the risk of being accused of “tooting my own horn,” I’m stepping outside my comfort zone just like I suggested you do.

First, a little background: MAPP (Manufacturers Association for Plastic Processors) holds an annual benchmarking conference each fall that has positively impacted my team members and me. Since 1997, MAPP has brought plastic processors together in various forums to learn from each other, challenge each other, and grow relationally. In short, it is an organization that embraces authentic leadership — the process of doing things with and through other people. 

I have been blessed to speak several times at MAPP’s annual benchmarking conference in breakout sessions — intimate Q&A sessions with 10-50 people in a small classroom setting. This has been a great experience where I learned as much as I taught — the audience’s insights and encouragement meant I left the conference feeling fired up to get back to work! 

Out of My Comfort Zone

This year, MAPP has asked me to do something out of my comfort zone. Instead of speaking in a breakout session in a small classroom, they requested I give a talk on the main stage in front of hundreds of attendees. Admittedly, their ask made my heart beat a little faster — and it still does as I write this now! But, I am taking my shot. 

I am taking my shot because the topic I will discuss — shared leadership — is near and dear to me and something I think will help the audience rethink their views about leadership. 

Influence and Leadership

Leadership is the process of doing things with and through other people; it always involves others. And when a leader realizes that their leadership is based on influence — and that no one has a monopoly on influence — their eyes open up to the possibility of other leaders. External factors like experience, title, and status, become irrelevant, and influence takes precedence. 

As I have learned at Hoffer Plastics, a college intern and upcoming retiree may not have much in common, but both can and should influence our organization. We are better when we listen to both. We improve through shared leadership. 

A Question of Legacy

Of course, I have a lot more to say about this topic (and I will at the conference!), but I want to leave you with one parting thought on shared leadership for today — and it’s a question of legacy. When you’re at the end of your life, what do you want to be known for? Is it some arbitrary list of accomplishments? Or, is it something else? I have a clear idea of what I want my legacy to be, and I’ll start my talk at MAPP’s benchmarking conference with that thought. In the meantime, thank you for indulging me in this moment of self-promotion, and I hope you can join me on October 5 and 6 in Indianapolis.