16. What are you doing to continue growing and developing as a leader?
I am not doing anything special as far as I know. That is, I am not trying to develop myself further because I am on kind of a downward path. But I still enjoy reading a lot and reflecting on what I read and applying it where and when I can. In the old days when I was running things I could learn and apply immediately, for example Meyers-Briggs. Now I don’t have any laboratory except myself. I just seem to be an evolving creature. I am still evolving and probably will be until the day I die.
It is true that I continue to reflect on the nature of my organizational involvements, but applying this is a problem and there is a reason. Unless I am asked and willing to chair something and be in a position to move the agenda ahead, it doesn’t work for me these days. It doesn’t have a thing to do with me desiring the public presence of being in the chair. It has to do with being able to systematically move the board and organization ahead. If I am not in this role, I am unable to influence direction and increasingly find I am unwilling to put in the energy needed for this kind of thing any more. It’s simply not worth it…. Maybe part of saging is knowing when to provide counsel and then disengage.
17. The two characteristics most often associated with sage leader wisdom are unusual experience and the exercise of sound judgment. What does having wisdom mean to you?
It is learning from a wide range of personal experiences and learning from others. I have to experience and apply things in order to learn. I am constantly learning from others, which is how I continue to develop. This is my natural tendency, to learn from others, from what they have gone through—for example, my 97 year-old friend and former colleague who taught me when I was just a pup. I don’t know if this is wisdom, per se, but it is a body of knowledge that can be culturally applied in a useful way.
18. What are the one or two peak experiences in your life that set you on the path you’re on today?
I don’t have a clue. I can’t point to one or two big moments that somehow changed my direction, but for me it’s all been cumulative, just building and building and still building. I am a learning animal. I drive people nuts on boards by asking a lot of questions. That’s just the way I am, how I contribute.
I have had a lot of “ah-ha” moments, however—like the Meyers-Briggs and applying it to people who worked for and with me. This was fascinating and well into my career, and it led to personal insights about my need and desire to change my leadership role and style.
As I think back I often wonder why I sought a BS in Electrical Engineering. There was absolutely nothing in my past that should have led me there. I wasn’t particularly good at anything except sports and dating. And there was nothing on my IQ chart that said I would have excelled. Yet, I have always tended to take on the hardest thing, and electrical engineering struck me as the hardest thing to do in college so I picked it. I can still see myself back then. I had gotten married in my Junior year and was 20. I remember sitting at my desk and going through the catalog and decided I was going to graduate with honors so I could get a master’s degree. At the time I had like a 2.5 grade average, and all of the hardest courses were coming up. I marked the grade I wanted to achieve after every course I had to take for the next two years to graduate with honors—and I nailed every one of them. I went from being a 2.5 student to a 3.6 student overnight just because I decided that was what I was going to do. It wasn’t such an “ah-ha” experience per se, but its long-term impact on me was profound because it was personally affirming. The administration called me in and couldn’t believe what had happened. Actually they brought a shrink into the college in my senior year because they wanted to know where they had failed. I had been admitted on probation, and then four years later I graduated near the top of my engineering class. They really believed that they had failed somewhere. Incredible!Download Article 1K Club