Authentic Concern: Leadership Matters


Authentic Concern: Leadership Matters

I took my family on an awesome vacation to Puerto Rico over the holidays, and along the way I was reminded about the value of leadership, in both large and small ways. I’m always amazed at how the quiet times can reveal the most powerful lessons, and this trip was no different.


key ingredient was a new player in the mix of our family. My daughter has been dating Gus for a couple years, and we extended the invitation for him to join us. Gus is a great guy with lots of smarts, ambition, and a penchant to help – just a few of the traits Jill and I appreciate about him. 


Just as in business, when new players enter the mix, the dynamic around decision-making changes in an instant. Suddenly, there’s new input, there’s deference to another voice, there’s competition for existing voices to rise above the din, and sometimes there’s chaos. For those reading, I’m sure you can think of numerous occasions when a new person added to the business shifted the dynamics of the team. 


Such was the case on our journey to explore Old San Juan.


For those who haven’t been to Old San Juan, the streets are cobblestone and very narrow. We were driving a Ford F-150, borrowed, along with the house, from my good friends Steve and Mindy. There were also many one-way streets, and we were in the thick of the old city looking for, of all things…. Parking!


I won’t bore you with the play-by-play, but it was in those moments that I realized leadership really does matter, because I, as the leader and driver, was forced to take all input into consideration and make the ultimate call on which direction we would take. It was not unlike some of the big strategic decisions we’ve made here at Parker Technology. Sometimes I was wrong, but, with teamwork, patience, and persistence, we found a parking spot and set out on foot.


The parking experience reminded me that leadership isn’t just taking all input and making the “tough” call in the moment. Good leadership is a whole bunch of other things, like setting vision, effective communication, adaptability, inspiration, motivation, conflict resolution and accountability. 


Setting vision for the trip started long before we arrived in PR – it started in January when we decided we wanted to be in a warm place for the holidays. Setting vision in business demands that we see into the future and picture where we want our companies to be in six or twelve months, and then communicate that vision and drive consensus. 


Once the vision is set, your leadership gives others the opportunity to think broadly about where and how with a central focal point. It seems simple, right? But think about it a different way.


Let’s say we didn’t set the vision and Jill decided, independently, she would rather be skiing than on a beach. She’s looking one way, and I’m looking the other. That’s a danger to vacation planning and to your business. As leaders, we must set vision, communicate it, and then rally the troops to that vision.


Along the way, inevitable “conflict” arose about where to go to dinner. That wasn’t Gus’ fault, that was mine. I allowed too much time to pass before I forced a decision and by that time, we were all so “hangry” that deciding became an exercise in futility – nobody was happy. 


Timing is always an important element to any business’s success, and it’s the leader’s job to get out in front, get ahead and to anticipate when hard decisions (like where to eat) need to be made to avoid a meltdown. The fun can only go on so long before the business and my family must stop and refuel. 


Sometimes this is when leaders are at their best because they’re under the gun and gut instinct can truly take over. I know my family and their likes and dislikes, and I knew speed was of the essence. We found a great pizza place and the world was a better place 30 minutes later. 


As leaders, we know what our business needs, and we know our strengths and weaknesses. But a business, like a hungry family, must be fed, and a leader can’t wait before provisions are depleted before they make a move. The lesson is to let the fun/success go on as long as possible, but leaders must remove themselves from the “fun” and start planning for the next phase (or refueling stop.)


I’m happy to report the trip was a success! Our family meshed with our new plus 1, and I again found new insights to apply to work. I came back better than ever and prepared to have fun, yet still looking ahead!

Article contributed by:
Brian Wolff, Parker Technology
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