I was recently asked for some thoughts on how to really benefit from participating in a gathering of leaders. Below are some practical suggestions on maximizing your growth and development from such a meeting.
- It’s easy just to let the meeting just happen and you take it as it comes – more reactive than pro-active. While this may be of some benefit, it will not maximize your experience. A little planning and forethought can be a great benefit.
- Don’t be afraid to take initiative with anyone while there or try to book an appointment beforehand. You will usually find them very responsive if at all possible. You will need to have a clear reason for wanting to spend time with them. Express what you hope to get out of the time together.
- It can be easy to feel like a grasshopper in the land of giants, but that is not reality. While a gathering of leaders will have those attending with different leadership roles, but there is no value or importance implied by those various roles.
- So, think ahead and do some pro-active planning. Who would you want to spend time with? Who would you want to learn from? Are their strategic linkages that you want to work develop or initiate?
- Though you have a plan, expect that the Lord will guide you into some ‘divine appointments’ that He arranges for you. Be anticipating that and listening to the Spirit as He directs you in your conversations. Be slow to speak and quick to listen.
- Go as a learner. Go asking questions. It might be helpful to have several questions related to leadership that you ask repeatedly to several participants and then compare their answers. The questions can be specific (i.e. What one lesson have you learned that has helped you most to be a strategic leader?) or more general (i.e. What advice would you give someone like me who is just beginning to lead geographically dispersed staff teams?)
- Don’t make any long-term commitments while there. You may be invited to visit, send staff teams, partner, commit resources , etc. to many wonderful opportunities. Thank them for the invitation, but tell them you will want to pray and think about this and discuss it with your leadership before making any long-term decisions. When you return, and decompress, you will be able to make much better and wiser decisions.
- Debrief with someone afterwards on what you learned.
Gatherings of leaders can be very stimulating and helpful for your growth and development. But a little forethought can truly make them life-altering. Plan ahead!