The Art of Leadership – Vancouver 2016

Today I attended a delightful conference hosted by an organization called The Art of Leadership.

I have been to a lot of these sorts of conferences and some of the speakers I have seen before. For instance, I saw Sir Ken Robinson in Vegas a few years ago at an ITIL Pink Elephant conference. He was so funny and insightful then, I wondered if he would be as good today. He was. In fact, while the day was long and required a few coffees, all the speakers were very good and in my opinion high quality.

I am generally a pretty critical person. I question everything. The door to door sales people have stopped coming to my door as I tend to drive them crazy with questions. I like to dissect anything that doesn’t sound like good science. Most of what I heard today was very relevant and fact driven with studies to show the efficacy.

While all the speakers were good, my favorite was the 70 year old Tom Peters. Tom smashed through his allotted time with a flurry of slides that contained a lot of quotes from different leaders. I enjoyed this the most because many of these leaders were the ones I looked up to and their quotes were some of my guiding principles. You see, I don’t believe leaders with huge egos are healthy for an organization. Sure they grow an empire but they do so on the backs of the employees who ultimately suffer. My core pillars of value are scalability, cost effectiveness and reliability. The only way to truly achieve this over the long term is through employee engagement. Once I create a team of fire breathing, passionate people who have transcended their immediate needs and have genuine care respect for their team mate, I will have created a work force that can deliver on almost any challenge. In my opinion, this is leadership. Empire building is something else.

I settled into my seat. My view was pretty good. Right behind the “reserved” crowd.

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Sir Ken Robinson takes the stage. As entertaining as always.

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Neil Pasricha presented the following slide. As I receive hundreds of emails per day and other lower value requests, I could relate.

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A great artistic work outlining Ron Tite’s presentation:

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More artistic work outlining Tammy Heermann’s presentation.

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The same artwork for Sir Ken Robinson.

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Then it was time for Tom Peters. While he did go a bit over, his material was excellent. Below are just some of the slides I captured:

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The slide says:

Managing: The greatest life opportunity one can have [litterally]; mid to long term success is no more and no less than a function of one’s dedication to and effectiveness at helping team members grow and flourish as individuals and as contributing members to an energetic, enthusiastic, caring, self-renewing, future-thirsty organization dedicated to the relentless pursuit of Excellence.

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This slide made me smile. I have always believed that organizations should support training for individuals based on drive rather than job description or responsibilities. For example, if I train a Service Desk Technician for System Administration skills it benefits both the employee and the company as it prepares this person for a promotion when they are ready. It allows an efficient growth within the organization, fosters engagement and is financially effective.

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Another interesting slide. There was a bit of scare language around automation. I wasn’t very concerned about this automation although some seem to be.

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