Calibrating Leadership

Out on my hike today with my two-year-old Labrador retriever, Sierra, I was thinking about how quickly my business is growing and how my team is expanding to support that growth. I was ruminating on how my role is evolving by necessity into one of a leader and coach rather than the sole sales representative and income producer. I want to lead them well and I was thinking about ways to do that better.

I was pulled out of my internal musings into the present as I watch Sierra run up ahead of me on the trail. She knows the route well because we take it several times a week. It’s my favorite hike right out the back door and up about a thousand-foot incline to the top of Becker Peak with its gorgeous view of lower Echo Lake and South Lake Tahoe in the distance.

Sierra is joyful to be out and off leash in the mountains and I know that she hopes-against-hope that this hike will end, as it sometimes does, down at the lake where she will launch herself off of the dock like a rock which is shot out of a slingshot to swim in the cold water.

As she runs ahead of me on the well-worn path, she often takes off on her own side journeys, guided mostly by her nose and ears, pulled by the sounds and smells of other animals who inhabit the pristine forest. But she always comes back to the path and turns around to listen and look for my footsteps coming up the path… just checking in with me to be sure we are still headed to Becker and potentially down to the lake for a swim. I communicate the message that we are indeed still headed up to Becker with a nod, a smile, and a “Let’s go!”… and she’s off and running again, strong and steady up the trail.

I realize this is what my LionSpeak team members do as well. We are all headed in the same direction on a path toward my vision of a world-class communication coaching company. They know where we are going. They often run up ahead of me and occasionally off on side journeys of their own. But they always come back to listen and look for my footsteps to make sure we are still, ultimately, headed to our pre-planned destination or to see if I have decided to make a turn toward a slightly different one. Lest they get too far off track, they need reassurance that we are still headed to “Becker Peak” and not down to the lake or off to blaze an entirely new trail altogether. As long as they get a clear message back from me that we are indeed still headed toward our original destination and goal, they are off and running again, strong and steady up the trail.

At LionSpeak, we do this every year with several mechanisms, the first of which is an annual, off-site Vision Calibration Retreat. We’ve just put LionSpeak’s 2020 retreat on the calendar for mid-February at the ranch. This commitment carves out time to re-clarify and solidify the long-term vision, short-term mission, goals and benchmarks, and strategic plan for the company. It also allows me to check in on the goals and desires of my team as well as leverage their creative suggestions and ideas. We shore up our systems, renew our commitments, and celebrate our successes. Maybe even more importantly, the retreat bonds us together as a cohesive group, to one another and to the values and ideals of LionSpeak and, as our coach puts it, to “the good work we are called to do.”

This annual retreat is then easily leveraged throughout the coming year with individual growth conferences, quarterly strategy sessions, monthly team meetings, and weekly check-ins to make sure we are staying on track.

Is your team looking back down the trail at you, waiting for reassurance or a clear new direction? Are you looking back at your owners and managers for a clear signal as to which path you should be on and what your role will be going forward? If so… you’re right on track. This is what good leaders and great teams do… they check in for clarity.

You can decide today to make 2020 your year of progress toward a vision you love creating and in which you love to play a significant role. You can make it one which feels joyful and fulfilling and right in line with that which you value and those you respect.

At LionSpeak, one of the things we love most to do is to help business owners and managers facilitate amazing Vision Calibration Retreats. Though we can do them any time of year, we have about a dozen dates available between December and March. These dates will be gone quickly so, if you’re thinking about it, don’t wait. Reserve your date now.

You can make 2020 your best year yet. The view from top of that business peak is truly amazing! And, the swim in the lake at the end of the trail is just one big bonus for a job well-done.


“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
~~ John Maxwell