Summer can too often be an excuse to put things on hold — especially leadership development and training. It’s easy to make excuses:
• People are juggling vacation schedules.
• They’re busy with family activities.
• The nice weather can be a distraction.
• It’s just too damn hot!
Any or all of these concerns may be a factor! But there’s a lot you can do during the summer season to keep your team engaged and motivated — and help you grow as a leader.
Summer activities provide great opportunities for networking and strengthening the social bonds that make a team more cohesive and productive. Take your team out of the office — take them outdoors! Golf outings, hikes, kayak trips, softball games and barbecues can be strictly social or can be combined with training activities. A change of venue can make meetings more enjoyable.
Personal development and professional development are inseparable. For example, taking a rock climbing class or going on a sea kayaking adventure trip can help you develop courage and confidence. When you go back to the office and face a new challenge, your brain now operates with the higher level of courage and confidence you developed on the cliff or on the ocean. These types of activities change your inner wiring — literally change you as a person — and those changes help you become a more courageous and confident leader.
The best leaders lead by example. There’s nothing more inspiring than sharing a challenging adventure with your team and allowing them to know you better as a person. Sharing these activities provides opportunities for everyone to develop personally, and deepens the connections and mutual respect that help the team function more effectively on the job.
Aspiring and emerging leaders can develop leadership skills and experience by organizing these activities.
Recent research points to the benefits of getting outdoors. Even looking at pictures of nature improves productivity and reduces stress and even sick time, but actually getting outdoors produces the best results by far. Combining even light forms of exercise with nature increases benefits exponentially.
Encourage people to go on “think walks” and “walking meetings.” Watch productivity, creativity and health soar!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t put in a plug for my fellow martial artists. I’m sure you’ve seen those folks doing Tai Chi in the park — what better time than a nice summer evening to give it try? Some organizations offer Tai Chi, yoga and other similar programs outdoors during the summer at lunch hours or designated health breaks.
Down time is good too!
Sometimes there’s nothing more energizing than enjoying some quality time just sitting near the ocean, lake or pool. Use this time to turn off the noise. Reflect on what’s going on in your life and clarify new plans and goals.
The old Masters understood that you can’t clear a jar of muddy water by shaking it. You have to let it sit. The muck settles to the bottom leaving the clear water on top. That’s how your mind works too. You can achieve a much higher plane of thinking when you let the noise and clutter settle and take some time to clear your mind.
The iconic motivational speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones famously said “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
What better time to meet people and read books than summer?
And now we can “listen to books” too!
Subscribe to Audible, Amazon Audio Books or any number of other services. Many that are free. Take your learning on your next summer walk or bike ride or when you’re enjoying that chaise lounge poolside.
Don’t just listen to technical books — expand your leadership horizons by listening to biographies and stories about leaders overcoming great challenges. Encourage the people on your team to do the same. Organize an informal “book club” meet-up once where everyone can share what they’ve been learning.
Some leaders hit the pause button during the summer. That’s a big mistake.
Just don’t worry too much about trying to find time for everyone to do everything. More people take vacation or personal days during the nice weather. Provide just enough activity so everyone can participate in some fashion throughout the summer.
Summer is a perfect time to cultivate leadership — at all levels; and to cultivate your personal leadership qualities to even higher levels!