If you live in or are from the south west of england, do you know who this person in the picture is? I'm interested to know how many people know who this is before reading the article.
On 29th of September Aptus UK were proud sponsors of the Like Minds Festival in Exeter. Once a year Like Minds brings together creativity and digital innovation from around the world into one event to inspire people in the south west to grow their business or careers in new ways.
The day was made up of many global and local keynote speakers as well as various workshops. I chose to attend the “how to be a thought leader” workshop, as I figured being the facilitator of a thought leaders group I should make sure I’m on the right track. The workshop was insightful, however it wasn’t as advantageous as I’d hoped. Time ran out so we didn’t really have the opportunity to properly explore the tools being presented. What I did enjoy from the group was the coming together of people from various backgrounds and interests and fortunately the room wasn’t full of egos or try hard leaders, but more genuine professionals aiming to communicate via thought leadership.
The best thing I took away from the session was the point raised by Matt Huddleson of OTB Eveling, an Exeter law firm. Matt raised the point of social media being saturated by people constantly pushing out content; we receive a barrage of material every time we open an app or website or email. I fully agreed with Matts point and added that I believe SEO (search engine optimisation) or Google rankings has promoted this level of activity. I do however believe we can fairly easily differentiate the truly authentic, passionate thought leaders from the ones simply looking to promote their brand or raise their rankings on Google. Personally I enjoy following some bloggers and vloggers; however, if I feel they aren’t in it for the right reasons I lose interest. It’s crucial to me that I spend my time wisely so I have to chose carefully who I give that time to, as I’m sure you do too.
After the Like Minds event I booked into a hotel for the weekend in Cornwall and on the Saturday took my girlfriend to visit the Minack theatre near Lands End. Have you been there? Honestly, if you haven’t already then I recommend you visit this amazing place. The Minack is an outdoor theatre built by hand on the cliffs of Cornwall. The theatre itself is inspiring yet the person who created this breathtaking place is even more inspirational. Rowena Cade is a name I’ll never forget. A person who’s story is that of a true leader, someone who drew people to her in a way only few people in the world could.
In the 1930‘s Rowena offered her garden to a local theatre company as a venue to host their next production. She and her gardener worked tirelessly to create a flat space on the rocky cliffs that made up the majority of her land. The event was so successful Rowena decided to create an outdoor venue that could host regular performances. Rowena worked on this project for over 50 years with her gardener, an architect and a builder. Each of her helpers was drawn to assist her and stated they almost felt obliged to work on the project as Rowena's vision and work ethic was unprecedented. Rowena had a presence which attracted interest and she seemed to create a following in a natural way. People were in awe of her vision and felt they were equally empowered to contribute to this vision. Without realising it they became a very strong team working to achieve this massive goal.
Rowena’s story resonated with me and I looked back to the thought leaders session. Leadership in any form must have a clear vision or focus and requires authenticity. In my efforts to be the best leader I can be, those two days have really reassured me that I’m moving in the right direction. My goals in creating Aptus and Thought L@B are to provide the framework for people to find their strengths and be empowered to use those strengths in achieving the common goal. If we want to lead a team, a business or a group of followers we need to show passion, authenticity and a true team spirit to get the best out of everyone and ourselves.
Maybe you can use Rowena as a measurement of leadership success; every now and then think about how you are leading. Set your goal and are you empowering your teams to truly contribute to this goal. I might get a cement covered wheelbarrow to sit on instead of my office chair, Rowena makes it look so comfortable.