How often do we hear people say you can learn about leadership in Toastmasters? If you are hoping to learn how to grow your leadership skills are you astute enough to recognize the learning opportunities? If you are leader worth following, are you wise enough to open minds and teach eager learners the lessons?
If you don’t have to submit reports for work or even for volunteer activities, then I feel sorry for you. Most people detest reports and if they never have to create or submit one for as long as they live they will never give it a second thought!
Why would I ever say that I feel sorry for you? One of the most important leadership lessons that I have learned is understanding the psychological benefits, business importance and financial rewards that come as a result of embracing the need for consistent reporting.
If you are required to report on the current State of affairs for others and feel that your efforts go unnoticed, unrecognized and even worse never reviewed, I appreciate your frustration and completely understand why you think preparing reports is a complete waste of time. It’s like losing weight or deciding to take decisive action and make healthier choices in your life. If you merely do it for others your commitment will never be consistent or permanent. However, once you realize the importance of making sacrifices and investing the time for your own gain, personal benefit and desire to feel healthier and more in control of your life you will do what needs to be done in order to achieve the results that you desire.
How do reports help you? How does the exercise of documenting the State of Affairs benefit you and increase the odds of a more positive outcome?
Going through the mental exercise of writing out a detailed report of where you were, where you are and where you anticipate you will be at a future date based on the present rate of progress makes you to face the reality of a situation and the players involved. It forces you to face the difficult facts about the current State of Affairs. It elevates your awareness so that you know what you are doing well and necessary corrections become very obvious. It also highlights red flags and warning signs of danger or imminent failure. Reports that are submitted along a timeline identify shortfalls and provide the opportunity to make midcourse corrections or put a plan of action into effect in order to get caught up if we have fallen behind when faced with deadlines, targets or quotas. Reports are like the dashboard of your car, they let you know what is happening at the present time and they also provide you with data and information that can save you from engine trouble or a possible collision.
As you mentally move from the attitude of “having” to submit a report to “wanting” for your own good to submit a report, you evolve to a higher level of thinking. The mental thought process develops big picture, long term thinking. You move from a person simply going through the motions and being a doer to a strategic thinker. Potential roadblocks become more evident. Your mind expands and creative thinking and preventative problem solving skills kick into gear. Failures on the horizon become evident and success patterns are easily identifiable. You see troubles before they arise and you are empowered to take action before it is too late.
When you work with a team, regular reports communicate essential information to your teammates. It makes them aware of how they are doing in comparison to the rest of the team, how their contributions compare with the contributions of others and whether they need to make adjustments to their efforts moving forward.
If you have someone in the chain of command, your boss or a strategic partner and you know that individual wants you to succeed, your report makes them aware of how they can support you in your quest. Your report provides them with information that they need in order to coach you and help you to see the positives and negatives of your situation. Your report will generate questions and points of discussion that will force you to think at a deeper level. It may even make it necessary for you to defend your position and come to the conclusion that you may be out of touch with some of the claims you have made. As much as you may hate to hear it, your report may protect you even from yourself.
When the thought of preparing and presenting a report goes from a necessary evil to an activity that you look forward to, when it shifts from a tiresome chore to something you accept and actually want to do, you will have achieved a level of maturity that makes you a leader.
Marshall Northcott, Division G Governor, Founder’s District
“Members Matter Most!”
Get with the P.R.O.G.R.A.M.
Persistence ● Recognition ● Opportunities ● Growth ● Responsiveness ● Achievement ● Motivation