I haven’t written in a while because we have been busy putting something together that dazzles me everyday and now when all is starting to make sense, I am writing again. We have such a great group of people that I do not even know who is leading. Everyday I show up to work and there is a continuous 360 degrees feedback session.
When I was a boy, I spent a long-time being part of an organization founded by Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, the Boys Scouts movement. There were some practices that until now just made sense to me like each troop was divided into patrols formed by 8 members. These patrols adopted names from animals that represented the spirit of the team. They participated in all types of competitions, but there were never individual competitions. When one competed, you were always representing your patrol, a group who always walked with the leader up front and the sub leader at the back to ensure that we all moved at the same speed and no one was left behind. I feel that now our team looks like that patrol I used to lead during my childhood: we worked hard, we laughed a lot and we would get things done.
Forged by fire
My previous assignment was also as a leader and I started it by believing that it was a great opportunity for me to make a name for myself and prove that I was ready to keep climbing in my professional career. With the day to day struggle that working in operations brings, I learned the hard way that it was never about me, it was about the team. I made many mistakes and was convinced that by working harder I was going to overcome all obstacles. I never thought of this as a team challenge. To me it was personal, so personal that I would take everything too seriously and I forgot to enjoy the moment. Until that point in my life I had always considered myself a tough guy, someone who could overcome any obstacle by being consistent in my drive. In my last year, I got sick and started suffering anxiety attacks followed by depression. I was not as strong as I thought I was. It took a lot of support from my loving wife for me to get better and I did. I was forged by fire. All of a the sudden, I realized that in order to be strong, I had to be healthy and in order to be healthy I have to take care of myself. At that moment I had two options: either I could feel sorry for myself and blame everyone around me for not reaching out to me and offering help, or I could take this as a lesson and make sure that for my next leadership assignment, we (and not I) put together a support structure that ensured that we all learn from each other and take care of each other as a team.
That day came and the task was not easy to achieve, but between all of us, we set up a structure that made sense to us, where we keep our performance targets clear enough to follow and adjust plans if needed. With a person who could fill the role of Engagement Ambassador who would run periodic temperature check meetings to see where we can all improve at enjoying what we do. Setting up activities like the Empowerment Sessions where we get guest speakers to talk to us about beautiful stories about challenges and growth to inspire us. To start our Monday meeting with an inspirational video and close the Friday meeting with a funny video to allow us to head into the weekend with laughter! To rotate trainers for the newcomers to give all of us the opportunity to pay the lessons learned, forward that we all received during our onboarding. “Each one teach one” and we together will go forward like that boys scout patrol whose colours I wore proudly during my boy scout’s days.