One can hardly engage in a meaningful conversation about client service without taking a hard look at topics like leadership, listening, relationships, and trust. Angie Chaplin was kind enough to send me a copy of Robert H. Thompson's book, The Offsite, A Leadership Challenge Fable. I'm proud to call Angie a colleague, as she and I serve as members of the Instructional Team for Seton Hall University's MASCL program. Angie is also a certified facilitator for Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner's time honored Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, first introduced in The Leadership Challenge 25 years ago (now in its fourth edition).
Thompson's fictional account of an offsite meeting uses Kouzes & Posner's five practices as its foundation. The book not only offers a terrific illustration of the five practices, but also reminds us of the importance of finding greater meaning in our lives both personally and professionally. It makes me think of the story of the two stonecutters who were asked the question: "What are you doing?" The first answered, "I'm cutting stone." The second stonecutter replied, "I'm building a great cathedral."
Thompson offers us Gordon MacKenzie's line from the book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball, "You have a masterpiece inside of you and if you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it...only you."
So it may be fair to ask yourself, "Am I working on that masterpiece or not?"
Clients and customers can always tell the difference between people who are painting their masterpiece and who regard the significance of their work as greater than the task at hand, and those who are just doing what they've resigned themselves to do. They can smell it a mile away.
I encourage you to read Thompson's book. Take a few hours to enjoy the fruits of an offsite meeting in the comfort of your own home. (When was the last time you got to do that?) And reflect on how you can take the lessons from the book and implement them in your own life.
You'll most certainly identify with the characters who participate in this offsite meeting. I'm sure you've met many of them. In (Part 2) of my look at The Offsite, I'll recount one of the many profound stories Thompson's characters share with us.