It’s finally over. After three years of planning, organizing, creating and agonizing as the convention chair of the 2012 National Speakers Association convention in Indianapolis this summer, I’m officially old news. My synapses are once again beginning to fire steady, my world is coming back into focus, and now I reflect. The convention was a huge success and although I’d love to take credit for the entire event, I can’t…or can I?
For ten years I was a professional musician and songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. Incidentally, I learned more about leadership, management, HR, sales, and psychology by being the front man of a band than in any class I ever took at the University of Southern Mississippi. The most important lesson that I learned is that the best leaders are lazy. Let me explain. We’ve all read in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer about how Tom coerced his friends into cheerfully white washing the fence that he was supposed to paint while he relaxed in the shade. Tom would rather be lazy than do the work himself. Did that make him a bad leader? No Way! I planned a successful convention that was attended by over 1000 professional speakers from 14 different countries. It has been receiving rave reviews, and just as I did when I was the front man in a band, I learned two things from my experience as convention chair. 1. I like being in charge, and 2. You can get other people to cheerfully do the work for you… if you know how.
1 GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE. I am right brained.  I am creative, vision driven, and focused on the big picture. I surround myself with people who live in the details and enjoy logistics. A “LAZY” leader will compliment their weaknesses with the strengths of others.
2. COMMUNICATE VISION. When I fronted a band, I would never tell the other musicians what to play. I selected the song, tempo, and feel, but when it came to their instrument, I let them be the expert.  As the NSA convention chair I took the same approach. I specifically communicated the outcomes that I wanted but then let the speaker or session host reach them in their unique way. This allowed the meeting to have texture and variety.
3. CREATE “SHINE” OPPORTUNITIES. A great band leader will let each band member take a solo and give them the opportunity to be in the spot light and receive applause. Incidentally, the best music happens during the solo. A “Lazy Leader” will create vision but then appoint quality people to carry it out. By observing but not micromanaging their efforts, they will be free to add their flavor and take credit for their contribution. As the NSA convention chair I gave my team an opportunity to be on stage more than I was. This rewarded their efforts with publicity.
4. PRAISE OFTEN.  It never fails to amaze me what a powerful motivator recognition is. No matter how successful, wealthy, or accomplished a person is, we all crave an “atta-boy” from time to time. When you make habits out of delivering honest, consistent recognition and praise, you will create a team of confident, happy, employees who strive for excellence.
5. BE NICE. I believe that people are more productive when working with nice people . I believe civility is good for business. When you are nice to people, you create loyalty. Loyalty fosters commitment. Commitment is the basis for a culture of excellence.

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