Thanksgiving 2011 had come and gone and it was a balmy, spring-like day. A two-car caravan traveled from Lebanon, Ky., to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill near Lexington.
The entourage consisted of some of my favorite women and girls. My sister, Sylvia, (we call her my perfect sister) joined my wife, Carol, and me. Sylvia's daughter, Glenna Tresine (she is my namesake since she was born on my birthday), Isabelle (9 years old) and Eloise (4 years old), who are Tresine's daughters, and Alexandria, my brother Joe's grown daughter rounded out the group.
Party skirts were rippled by the breeze as we made our way from the parking lot through a row of large pin oaks to the restaurant. Sylvia had scheduled a tea for the group. This was not my first tea. Several times Carol and I had joined Sylvia at another location in Perryville, Kentucky. The Perryville facility shut down so we moved our tradition to the Shaker Village.
Isabelle wore a long dress with a plaid skirt with a black half-sleeved top and a large blue bow in her hair. Eloise's equally long dress was black on the bottom and red on top and she sported a black bow in her blond hair.
We chose our teas and they were brought out in separate pots. Next a variety of small sandwiches with the crust trimmed graced the table. Finally a series of sweet pastries were served. The bounty of the elegant event was more than enough for all of us.
After the tea, Joe and his partner, Sue, joined us and we walked with Alexandria around the grounds. A cider press worn from years of use and plants that were representative of a century ago were lined by a limestone rock fence.
The Shakers were a charismatic Christian religious order that was established in Europe in the mid-1700s. Since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden due to sexual intercourse, they believed the path to heaven resulted from giving up their worldly goods and practicing celibacy. They also held strong views about the equality of men and women. The Pleasant Hill commune near Lexington was created in 1805 and lasted over 100 years.
This was my first visit to any of the Shaker Villages, which range from the New England states to Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana and it seemed to be a good representation of a 19th century village.
However, the best part of the day was the tradition and spending it with cherished family members. Organizations have traditions just like families and they are defined by them. Whether it is a Monday morning meeting, Christmas party, or award ceremony, these traditions create memories and feelings of commonality.
I was talking to a potential client whose company has acquired several other companies and is planning a three-day conference of keynotes presentations and training sessions. I shared my background in merger training and the importance of creating common experiences. The best leaders invent ways to bring people together by establishing traditions.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.