Have you ever had the opportunity to gain earned leadership authority? I recently had this opportunity…and let it slip through my fingers. During my stint as Co-Chair for the District 31 Fall Conference I was confident that I was doing everything right. After all, I obtained a copy of the High Performance Leadership (HPL) book and dutifully read about the 6 key aspects of leadership. I kept this book with me and referred to it frequently throughout the conference organization process.

What is the HPL book, you ask? It is essentially Leadership by checklist. Awesome! It couldn’t get any easier, right?

-Develop a vision. Check.

-Build a team. Check.

-Communicate vision. Check.

-Spot problems…uh, oh.

I was so focused on following the checklist to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing that I lost sight of the fact that I was working with real people. As we all know, real people sometimes have their own ideas on how things should be done.

I had a teammate who ha a great idea. It really was a great idea and the team all agreed that he should take his idea and do good things with it. The only instruction we provided was to use the Toastmaster colors (TM rebranded this summer and our theme was the rebranding). Over the next few weeks this teammate kept sending out drafts of his idea, and I kept telling him that I could not wait to see how it would look the TM colors. Following one conference call, where everyone else was explaining how they were executing their roles under the theme, our rogue chair decided to push back. Publicly. In one of those e-mails where everyone and their brother is CC-d, this person expressed that he was tired of me mentioning the TM colors and that they just DO NOT match his vision. He continued to inform me (and everyone else) that when I take on his role I can do the job HOWEVER I WANT.

I did take this opportunity to do one thing right. I did not escalate the situation by calling or e-mailing him to let him know what I thought of his communication methods…or to share my perspective on his unwillingness to get on the theme bandwagon.

What I did was call our Lt. Governor of Education and Training for a little mentoring. The LGET did what my husband does when I take a problem to him for discussion, he said “I am going to handle this.” And I let him. After I calmed down I realized that I had done myself a disservice. This would have been the perfect opportunity for me to earn leadership authority.

This story has a happy ending, though. This was really the only instance of conflict in an effort that spanned 4 months and about 15 people to plan…plus, I don’t know how many volunteers who helped out the day of the event. At the end of the day, we all pulled together and put on an amazing conference.