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GLN conversation ~ Leadership beginnings

Earlier this year I was approached to become a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK (GLN) and having accepted the appointment I had a “conversation by email” where we explored my background and some leadership related topics.  The discussion that ensued is reproduced here in an unedited format.  (Note that the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) is the flagship conference for the GLN which is held in Chicago in August each year.  This includes talks from Leaders around the world and is rebroadcast around the UK later in the year.)

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life? 

For most of my life, I have drawn encouragement and inspiration from authors.  In my early career, I found myself travelling with work a lot, and often found myself browsing the airport bookstores.  Here I found my inspiration from authors such as Peter Drucker, Ken Blanchard, and Tom Peters, and more recently I have enjoyed reading Jim Collins, Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Craig Groeschel and others.  

The most significant impact on my thinking has come from John C Maxwell who started talking intentionally about leadership in the ’90s.  Before that, as I recall, a lot of the literature was about effective management.  John Maxwell brought leadership to the fore, and I found that I really resonated with what he had to say.  It was for this reason that I joined the John Maxwell Team a few years ago.

In recent years I have also found tremendous encouragement and challenges to grow from a variety of people, both on a one to one basis and in Mastermind Groups.  The person who has had perhaps the greatest influence in a one to one role has been my son, Adam.  We have spent many hours talking about business and leadership, and I inevitably find our conversations enlightening, often challenging, and always encouraging.  

How do these conversations come about? Where do they take place? How have they changed you? What have you done as a result? Can you provide an example?

I can vividly recall the day, standing in our kitchen with a laptop open on the table, when we decided, “let’s build a website together”.  The internet was in its infancy in the mid-’90s and Adam was still in Junior school.  I’m not sure that we ever made that website, but it played a part in getting Adam started on making computer games to sell to his friends on 3½” floppy disks in the playground at high school.

We often used to discuss business topics as he was growing up and he was passionate about his entrepreneurial interest in web design; building stunning websites for people while he was still in education.  Adam graduated with 1st class honours in digital & web design and started his own web design company some 15 years ago, which was about four years after I had launched my business.  We inevitably had loads of questions to explore, and although I had some years of experience in sales and marketing from my previous employment, these issues now had a more immediate impact for each of us on our own business.  

A few years ago, I felt an urge to pursue my core passion of speaking, coaching and training, and to focus particularly on leadership.  I can still hear Adam’s words to me, after 10 years of building his own business: “Dad, I’ve learned more about leadership from you, than from any book, or from anyone else”.  

Those words gave me the confidence to put down the work I had been building for the last 10 years and start out earnestly in this new direction.  Over the last 5 years, pretty much every conversation we’ve had has included a discussion about some business-related topic, whether it was how his business was going, how mine was going, or about some leadership issue or another.

A key turning point and learning point was when Adam showed me a poem, which I now have on the wall of my office, entitled “The man in the glass” by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr., which says: 

“The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.”

(see for example: http://www.inspirationpeak.com/cgi-bin/poetry.cgi?record=155)

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.