Have you ever been embarrassed at a leadership retreat?

A few years ago, a colleague of mine went to a week long leadership development retreat and, as is often the case with these retreats, a day was spent doing a physical activity that was supposed to enhance leadership skills.  On this occasion, the groups spent the better part of a day learning the climbing techniques of belaying. After becoming confident in their skills, each group was asked to secure a team member to their safety ropes and then support that individual as they climbed a telephone pole and walked across a tightrope. You get the picture. 

Well, it turned out that my colleague was so terrified of heights that she was not even able to climb up the telephone pole. Wow, what a disappointment for her in front of the other leaders.

The next day of the retreat happened to fall on Remembrance Day and the facilitator asked if everyone would stand and observe a minute of silence. To close off the minute of silence, my colleague offered to sing the Lord’s Prayer and with no musical accompaniment, let her voice express the feelings of sadness and gratitude felt by everyone in the room.

Wow!  It was so powerful and moving!

At the luncheon that followed, several participants thanked her for her initiative and expressed their wonder at her courage. They confessed that they would rather climb 100 telephone poles than sing a song in front of an audience.

So, what’s the leadership message here?

I believe each leader has their unique “secret sauce” that shows up in different forms. Whatever your “secret sauce”, it will reflect your bravery and self-confidence.  And most importantly, it will allow you to touch the minds and hearts of those you lead.

I’d love to hear about your leadership journeys, so keep in touch.  And if you ever need someone to “belay” you through a tough leadership time, I’m here to guide and support.


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