Call Me Jim

Being a Leader Through the Eyes of Children

Wow, the last time I posted to my blog my third grandchild wasn’t born. The last three years have been wonderful. I am getting new opportunities to speak to adults both through my normal school channels as well as conference workshops and keynotes for organizations. This past spring I had the pleasure and honor to speak to a gathering of business leaders in Seymour, Indiana. The local chamber was celebrating 30 years of their leadership program. I decided to take a different perspective and addressed the subject of leadership through the eyes of children. Over the next several months I will post parts of the speech. I look forward to hearing your comments.

“After spending 23 years with Alcoa holding a variety of management positions in 1996 I started a new career, this time working with children. Talk about a duck out of water. In 1996 I really didn’t like kids. My strong willed daughter Beth was absolutely convinced that her father didn’t love her and I am not sure that she was wrong. She was such a pain in my side.

By working with young people for the last 16 years and being successful in getting my daughter back in my life I have finally learned what the key attributes leaders must possess. Perhaps, you will learn a few as well.

Many writers have influenced my life. At the top, somewhere in the midst of those snow capped mountains was and is Stephen Covey. I owe him so much. First and foremost he helped me establish a wonderful relationship with Beth.

His first lesson that impacted me greatly consisted of only 4 words: LOVE IS A VERB. I wrote this down on several index cards and placed them throughout the house as well as in my car. LEADERS MUST LEAD THROUGH THEIR ACTIONS NOT JUST THROUGH THEIR INSPIRING WORDS.

With children this simple lesson is the essence of leadership. So many people who think of themselves as leaders are seen by others as being hypocrites. Children are incredible at identifying these types of leaders. If a company or in my world a family or school develops a mission statement then the leaders must live every word. I will always remember the day when a distant boss told me that my unit was being down sized to save money. I brought out the Alcoa’s Mission Statement which contained the following sentence: “Our people are our most important assets.” Actually, I didn’t show it to him. I read it to him. He terminated me on the phone. LEADERS MUST WALK THE TALK.

As a side note “Walk the Walk” and “Talk the Talk” are an incorrect way of stating that you must do as you say. Read the wonderful book “Walk the Talk” by Eric Harvey and Alexander Lucia and you will understand the difference. This book was published in 1993.

The next blog will discuss what my wife Carol did to make sure that I would spend more time bonding with my daughter. UGH

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Call Me Jim