At 4 in the morning on Tuesday, May 15, I arise from short hours of sleep, pack my car and head to Springfield, Ohio, for an all-day session with 16 managers on leadership. They are sharp folks with a mixture of age, gender, and experience.
We review the definition of leadership and several models of leadership styles including the Path-Goal Theory. Then, we cover the DISC personality profile and Emotional Intelligence Inventory they had completed earlier. Finally, we practice elements of a number of analysis tools such as The SWOT analysis, which identifies the internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. In addition, my training participants examine Porter's 5 Forces model, the Decision Tree Analysis, and the Pest Analysis tool using their own business experiences as illustrations.
At 5 in the afternoon, after a satisfying interactive exchange, I head back on the road. This time I have a nine-hour drive to Spartanburg, S.C., where I have a morning session scheduled with another client. The drive is pretty easy until I cross the Tennessee line. There, Interstate 75 is closed, which requires a lengthy detour. At one point I endure 30 minutes of dead stop. The traffic starts moving and I begin to pass a trailer truck full of stock when the driver swerves and sloshes a bucket full of cow urine onto my windshield.
Another hour passes and I am back on the interstate. Ninety more minutes slip by and at about two in the morning I arrive at my unimpressive motel room. Four hours of sleep ensue and I am up and ready for four more hours talking about my coaching model with 11 organizational leaders.
I line out the steps of the coaching process involving setting a safe environment, sharing expectations, gathering data, designing behavioral goals, developing an action plan, and giving positive and constructive feedback and effective verbal and nonverbal listening behaviors.
This session is one of those where my participants and I connect in a very positive way. I am high on adrenaline as I prepare for the trip home. Charlotte, North Carolina slows me down with 45 minutes of stop and go traffic but at eight in the evening the road ends in my driveway.
Although this trip is physically exhausting, the next morning I facilitate a coaching session with a local client. In three days I have worked with convenience store managers, manufacturing sales managers, and a hospital supervisor to enhance three different sets of skills.
Twenty-seven years ago I began this journey with my work at BorgWarner Chemicals. Since that time, I have worked with thousands of leaders and followers. My intention has been to improve the productivity and profits of the businesses with which I have worked. To date, mine has been an extremely satisfying career. I believe even the best leaders can and should seek new ways of growing their businesses.
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.