Seth Godin Leadership Workshop
I just began the +Acumen course Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop on Udemy. I am looking forward to taking some intentional time and space to reflect on leadership and ways to seize opportunities for instilling change.
Part of this course involves drafting responses to prompt questions and sharing them online. I tend to keep writings to myself so this will be a good challenge for me to engage in vulnerability and openness. The directive of these musings is to be “fast, not perfect.” To me, this is an additional learning objective. Building the habit of swiftly writing and getting it out there has been something I’ve wanted to work on (the contrast between the list of blog post ideas/written starters vs actual published post in recent years is embarrassingly stark!). So, here I go!
What is Leadership?
- Instead of pointing to a leader, outline a moment when someone you respect engaged in leadership.
- Next, Describe a moment when you chose to lead. How is it different from the rest of the time, when you are merely managing?
- Do you agree that leadership is a choice?
- Leadership is about making a change. A change that might not work. If you do the work alone, you are an artist. If you get other people to do it with you, you are a leader. Going forward, then, what is the change you are trying to make?
When I was in graduate school, a friend and colleague stood up at our university on the issue of banning bottled water. For environmental and social justice reasons, she was opposed to the idea of having to purchase water in disposable plastic bottles and thought drinking water should be a free resource at our university. The initiative involved replacing vending machine bottled water with water filling stations throughout the school. In leadership, she engaged colleagues on the students union, worked with the university governance and initiated a campaign to engage the student body in support of this idea. She demonstrated leadership because she had an idea that was important to her that she used as a platform to involve an entire community to make the changes happen. If she did not champion this issue, there would not be water filling stations at the school.
For my current role the difference between leadership and management falls when I involve others verses charging ahead on my own. My position is a silo but has potential to have impact on many decisions throughout the organization. Recently I was working on solving a problem by myself and felt stuck. My solution was to involve more people onto the project team and collect input and buy-in to build a better vision for the change. I resonated with this lecture in that this is something that might not work but if it did the change would have a huge impact on our company. Although many have doubts our organization is capable of such change, I strive to continue in leadership to see this project to fruition by engaging and motivating the stakeholders around me.
I do think that leadership is a choice. It is a choice to involve others but also a choice to have a collaborative attitude instead of a controlling one. I have a vision for various projects and I bring in team members not to convince them of my way but to get their insight so that the vision can transform into the best possible change—not just what I want.
Going forward in this course, I am exploring the change of building business-minded strategic planning into the design process. I find that many individuals, companies and clients talk about wanting this level of problem solving but when the rubber hits the road no one is building it into their process in a compelling way. Over and over people say they can’t convince clients to pay for strategy or research. I see this as a leadership problem. One that revolves around communicating the value and bringing everyone on board to put user-centered problem solving at the core of the capability of design.