Leading, following, and being a turtle

Last week I attended our state library conference. It was a good conference, by which I mean I learned a lot, was inspired at times, made a few good connections, picked up some new ideas to try, and connected with old and new colleagues. It was an enjoyable three days and I can’t think of a moment where I felt disconnected. Perhaps it had something to do with being on the planning committee. But I think it was more than that. This was one of those conferences that had a good energy. People were generally engaged, in positive moods, and seemed to be having fun.

The general theme was “Check Out & Renew.”

Brenda Viola spoke during the opening session and explained the concept of the “turtle” in caring for ourselves and others relating to situational leadership. We’ve all heard the story of the tortoise and the hare. She gave us a new spin on it. The hare carries the turtle until they come to a river. The tortoise carries the hare on its back as it swims across the river. The hare carries the tortoise again until they cross the finish line. Together, they both win.

But, the “turtle” is also an acronym for how we can be better leaders. Part of good teamwork is allowing the person with the right skills take the lead. That might not always be the “boss.” Depends on the situation. How many “leaders” are willing to step back and allow someone else to step forward? I know some that are very good at this. I know some that aren’t.

Brenda also talked about unity, rest, transparency, encouragement, and heart as being important parts of caring for yourself as a leader. Don’t forget. Anyone can be a leader. It’s not just those sitting in the boss’s chair.


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