I dropped a friend at the airport several hours before they were scheduled to fly recently. Waiting for planes isn’t my idea of a great use of time so I was anxious for them. As we parted ways I expressed my discomfort at being so early and they said, “That’s fine, I’ll people watch. I love seeing the interactions, the emotions, the calm to frantic, the frantic to calm, all there in front of me.” They were happy as.
Purposeful observation gives us the chance to see what’s happening at that very moment. It gives us insights into their world, their priorities, and their feelings. It lets us sit and reflect on what happened, why, and what might be the next part of the story. Purposeful observation with the intent to learn, grow, and change is a leaders critical path. Finding what leaders are doing that’s working, and can be embedded into your own leadership, matters more now than ever in the fast paced, ever changing world that surrounds us.
It’s called leader watching. Finding those you admire, learning from their leadership, and making it part of your own way of being and doing. Who do you admire as a leader? For what purpose do you admire them? How have they shaped your development, your practice, your thinking, your worldview? How is your leadership better because of them? Leader watching is about observing with the intent to grow. It centres around the person and follows a process. The person is WHO you admire and the process is WHAT they do that you want to learn from.
But why leader watch? I have observed leaders all my life, in real life, online, via books, through webinars, at conferences, in challenges, in successes, and made it an intuitive discipline to see what’s happening and learn from that moment so the moment lasts longer in my leadership than it ever did in real life.
When you leader watch, look for the following qualities:
- Character – In what ways is this leader the same person in private and public?
- Values – What matters to this leader and how does it align with my values?
- Disciplines – What does this leader do in a daily, weekly, monthly rhythm that helps them grow?
- Activity – What do I learn from their work ethic?
- Legacy – What are they doing that is for others and will live beyond them?
When you leader watch follow these steps:
- Look for specific qualities or behaviours.
- So that you can observe, learn and grow.
- To develop leadership that looks like specific actions that drive productivity and longevity.
- And choose a do this posture so you give yourself the best possible leadership learning.
Michelangelo said it so succinctly when he said, “I am still learning.” Leader watching is the purposeful observation of leadership in others so it can become leadership in you.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.