Leadership: Lessons in leadership traditions


Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file


Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file


Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file


Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

’Tis the season for traditions.

In the next month, we will initiate or participate in numerous family traditions. This might include decorating, baking or gift-giving rituals. Our memory tree, a Christmas tree filled with ornaments from places we have traveled to, is my favorite holiday tradition.

Reminiscing our past holiday celebrations and our departed loved ones is another popular event in our family. When I think of my grandma and grandpa, I think of the gifts that they gave. They had a practical style to their gift-giving approach. I also think about what they would say and the lessons that they taught me.

I call these words and actions leadership traditions — something you say or do repeatedly that your family remembers well after you pass. These leadership traditions have a powerful lesson that is hard to forget. Popular leadership traditions that we often hear from top leaders include:

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” — Dave Ramsey

“Success is never owned, it is rented, and the rent is due every day.” — Rory Vaden

“Leadership is influence — nothing more, nothing less.” — John C. Maxwell

“Do or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

A leadership tradition is not only what is said, but it also is what we do.

My grandma was very organized and detailed. She would use her label maker to tag her boxes and bins. Every corner of her house, from the basement to her sewing kit, was properly labeled. She knew what she had and exactly where it was.

This sensible organization showed in the practical gifts that she chose for me each year, too. She did not choose the popular toy of the season. Instead, she gave presents that were needed and would last. I have the piano lamp, nightstand and homemade clothing that she gave me decades ago.

My grandpa was a problem-solver. He was the fixer guy who everyone went to, even to get the tubes fixed in their television. At 76, Grandpa Don chose to learn a new hobby — wood carving. His talent for finding solutions created beautiful decorations and wall hangings. He would see a unique carving and figure out how to construct it without a pattern.

Grandpa was humble and did not think his creations were worthy of giving as gifts. So instead, we had to place orders with him to get what we wanted.

What do you do or say repeatedly? Pay attention during holiday gatherings. Your friends and family already know what your leadership traditions are. They are showing you by appreciating your talents or repeating your words back to you. Is it what you want it to be? Take advantage of the time together with people this season to make your leadership traditions intentional and memorable.

Kathie Rotz is a leadership consultant and John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer and coach with Unity Consulting in Dubuque.

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