5 Brilliant Leadership Lessons My Wife Taught Me This Weekend

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I’ll come right out and say it:  I hit the jackpot when I married my wife, Kristine. I admire and love her more than anyone on the planet.  And if you had asked me last week, just few months shy of our 15th wedding anniversary, if I could knock out a full list of the reasons why, I would have confidently answered YES!  For starters, she’s smart, funny, beautiful, caring and an awesome mom to our two kids.  But as long as I would have rambled on I would have missed one:  Leader.

Over the weekend, I had the chance to work alongside her at the All-1 Run, a 5K race that she helped organize to help raise funds for a program at our kids’ school (Sussex Christian School) to provide resources for children with learning and physical disabilities.  After months of planning and effort, the event kicked off at 9am on June 13th and proceeded to exceed the expectations of everyone in attendance – and posted a 26% increase in donations over the 2014!

In reflecting on how successful the race was, I was struck by how many lessons on leadership were hidden in the days, weeks and months leading up to the big day.

Here are the 5 things I learned about leadership from proudly watching my wife Kristine this weekend:

  1. Passion for the cause

Kristine’s incredible passion for serving children with higher needs at Sussex Christian School gave her the strength to face the discomfort of hitting the phones to solicit race sponsors, to keep pushing with advertising when online race registration was low and to maintain strong communication with her team of committee volunteers.  There were plenty of times to bail out and decide that the effort was “good enough,” but she never did.  If you’re going to lead a team on any project or initiative, you’d better have a strong passion for the cause.

  1. Do the work

While Kristine was blessed with a great committee of volunteers, she was always elbow-deep in the work helping to get things done.  Whether it was lugging huge signs for the race onto local roads or collaborating with the timing company, she was always hands on with the team getting things done.  The best leadership always involves a willingness to jump in and do the work.

  1. Set the bar high

Upon the completion of last year’s All-1 Run, Kristine had already set her sights on increasing the number of preregistered runners, total runners and for total donations to the program at very specific targets.  They exceeded greater 25% growth in 2 out 3 of these in 2015!  Teams and projects will perform to the bar set by the leader – set it high!

Kristine watching the race kick off on June 13th!

Kristine watching the race kick off on June 13th!

  1. Relentless follow up

Kristine was relentless in her follow up with sponsors, vendors and members of the volunteer team to make sure that all parts of the race were accounted for – often staying up late into the evening sending e-mail messages and checking-in.  Check out a great post from Bob Burg on this topic hereThere is always a lot to do, but leaders follow up relentlessly to make sure the important work gets done. 

  1. Seek Input from others (and actually USE it)

Kristine was always seeking input on ways to increase online registration and make the race better.  She leveraged relationships with fellow race organizers from the area, accepted input from vendors she was working with and was regularly asking for my thoughts on next steps.  Most importantly, she took the advice and immediately put it into action.  Her new approaches helped to increase online registration for the 2015 race by 25%!  Leaders need to be humble and hungry enough to learn from others…and courageous enough to take action. 

So often, we limit our learning to the formal research and writing of “experts” in a given field of study when opportunities to grow are all around us.

I could not be more proud of my wife and her team at the All-1 Run and am grateful for the lessons on leadership!

-Dave

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