Resilient Leadership

Gary Larson

Senior Architect, Coach

December 17, 2020

re-sil-ient /re’zilyent/: to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.   

Isn’t this what we are all trying to do these days following a crazy 2020?

Highlands College hosted their 6th Annual IMPACT Conference featuring John Maxwell and friends to present leadership principles in support of the school. More than 6,500 people tuned in from all over the world for this virtual conference. This year’s theme was Resilient Leadership.

The TURNERBATSON team is honored to be serving as the architect for the renovations for the new Highlands College campus, so we were fortunate to attend the IMPACT Conference in person. Here are a few of my notes:

Two of John Maxwell’s guests had a conversation on leadership together on screen. The first keynote speaker was Bonnie St. John, (a Paralympics African American Medal Winner) who knows a lot about achieving success against incredible odds. The second speaker was Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company. Mulally is credited with leading the company’s amazing transformation from huge losses into one of the world’s leading automakers through his One Ford plan to drive profitable growth for all the company’s stakeholders.

This compelling conversation between the two consisted of storytelling of their experiences, which brought home the point that we all face challenges and can capitalize on them. Let’s face it, we are all suffering right now from things we can’t see. We all get down from time to time, don’t we? How can we win?

Bonnie St. John shared that one of her “life hacks” is to prepare “A First Aid Kit for My Attitude.” Her kit consists of some items she can refer to when she’s down that remind her of who she is, where she came from, and positive items that remind her of what’s good in her life. These are items such as a special thank you note from a friend, her Mom’s sachet, and a note from her that says “Cherish Yourself.” You’ll have to watch her Ted Talk for the rest. This is a reminder to have our own first aid kit for our attitude. I have one that includes a note from a TURNERBATSON team member thanking me for the mentoring and the continuing availability I have provided over the past few years. There are others in my kit that help me in times like these. One is a powerful letter from my dad written on his 70th birthday to tell how proud he was to be my dad. These among other things are very special to me. How about you?

Mulally related the story of how he led the Ford executive team through its turnaround. He brought a positive Business Plan Review process with a “find a way attitude” through a simple, profound team reporting system of green, yellow, or red on their project status reports. At the start, they all reported green, wanting everyone to think they were successful. Then one executive bravely reported status red becoming transparent that his projects were in trouble. Mulally congratulated him on his honesty and transparency and pledged to help him succeed while encouraging others to help and not to condemn. Then in coming weeks and months others began to honestly and openly report their status of red, yellow, or green. They began to help and encourage each other toward team success. He exhorted us to “be thankful for those who tell the facts that things are red and need fixing.” This began the journey of PGA “profitable growth for all.” That’s what we all want for each other, right? Let’s be brave.

Finally, Mulally gave this advice on how to do it: Trust the process (applies to business, sports, personal, and family life), have fun, enjoy the journey and each other, never joke or humor at others expense, respect everyone, breakthrough in trust through openness.

I am inspired to take these concepts and optimize my business, personal, and family life for 2021. I hope they inspired you.

Images provided by Highlands College. 

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