The 2022 Executive Briefing Conference was my third event with Woodworking Network. I know I’m hired to inspire others, but it’s often the case that I’m the one who leaves inspired. You most definitely inspired me at this year’s EBC.
Leadership is sharing. You make my job easy when you’re willing to share your experiences, wisdom, and ideas — and there was plenty of sharing at EBC.
Here are some of the issues you identified at EBC:
- We’ve still got serious challenges attracting good people and keeping them.
- The supply chain continues to be an issue. How leaders empower people to innovate and work around this is critical.
- We need to be open to new ideas coming from all levels and from talented new leaders.
- Transitioning people from remote to in-person work and managing balance between the two.
- And the evergreen challenge of identifying and developing the next generation of leaders.
How we respond to these challenges determines our success as leaders in the coming years.
Management vs. leadership
There is leadership, and there is management. Admiral Grace Hopper said it best: “Management is about things. Leadership is about people.” There was plenty of both at EBC.
What inspired and impressed me most was that the conversation almost always centered on “caring.” That inspired me. It didn’t surprise me. I don’t know if that’s the general trend among leaders in woodworking and related industries, but I’ve come to know it’s the predominant culture among those connected to the Woodworking Network.
There was also a recognition that this work is hard work. Sadly, many organizations today look for shortcuts. There aren’t any. It takes time and a serious commitment to build a successful and sustainable team. It often means taking personal time to inspire, empower and guide people to be their best.
In our sessions and in the networking events, I heard many stories of EBC leaders going the extra mile for the people you serve. I heard stories of leaders providing extra help to people with financial trouble, helping out with family issues and providing mentorship to both promising emerging leaders and those who were falling short but were worth an extra effort.
One of our sessions this year centered on a Pew report about the top reasons people are leaving organizations. Again, no surprise that the leaders at EBC were eager and willing to respond –– especially in areas that involved creating and nurturing a culture of inclusion, respect and sensitivity to issues outside the workplace that affect engagement and performance.
And I heard many stories about leaders who are not only willing, but feel it’s essential to empower people to do their best and to give them opportunities to lead. As leaders we succeed when and only when our people succeed.
Putting people first
Some still put management above leadership. That sometimes pays in the short term, but this is an expensive attitude in the long run. The most effective organizations feature leaders who put people first. This is the kind of leader I’ve met two years running at EBC, and at this year’s Closets Conference.
I take more from you at these conferences than you take from me. The mission of The Sensei Leader Movement is to learn from leaders like you and to collect and curate these experiences and lessons, sharing them with others. Here are key points we can all take away from our conversations at EBC:
- You succeed as a leader when and only when your people succeed.
- People perform their best when, and only when they know their leaders care, their work has meaning and they have the chance to learn, grow and develop.
- Leadership is sharing –– a leader shares. Always ask yourself what you are willing to share, what you can share and how you can best share it.
I look forward to working with you again and I’m excited to learn how leaders in the Woodworking Network audience rise to the challenges and opportunities we face today –– and tomorrow.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.