2012 TI Convention – Chris Ford Leading from the Middle


In the first education session Friday, Past International President Chris Ford spoke about Leading From the Middle.

Chris opened with an interesting story contrasting his beginnings in the Canadian Armed Forces and the parallels to work and volunteer leadership. I really liked how he gave a bit of his experience, and then related it to current problems that the audience could (I believe) easily identify with.

Model – the handout is on TI’s website (I’ll add the link soon) Note: Here it is!
You!are in the middle of the model (not the center of the universe, but always in the middle)
Your team surrounds you
Main focus: People & Mission

Higher ups – in Toastmasters who Re the higher-ups? Members
Collaborators – if you are a club President, other Presidents, Area Governors and others who network with
Fan club

Manage all four externals – manage relationships

You, team & externals all interact

Who is missing? … Customers – they belong all around the edge of the model

Formal and informal
Most important – team
Doesn’t matter how great relationships are around you, if your team is falling apart you can’t be successful.
You must also maintain those relationships with higher-ups, collaborators, fan club and even detractors
Note about detractors: Convert them, get different viewpoints, and respectfully discuss differences

Also, manage relationships between your team and the four externals. Example- Even if you want to stop team members from talking to higher-ups, you can’t expect to.

Finally, manage relationships between externals (I.e. higher-ups and detractors, collaborators and fan club, etc.)

Once he showed the slide with all 15 relationships depicted with arrows, he correctly pointed out how he violated all rules of PowerPoint.

Also, each of those 15 relationships could represent multiple people (i.e. on your team, collaborators, etc.)

Why people do what they do – lots of interesting answers
Concerns ( i.e. budgets, schedules, risk, etc.)
Hope (must include a plan – George Patton – hope is not a method)
Expectations (must be defined, otherwise they’re just assumptions)
Assumptions (always verify)
Priorities (may differ from your team, etc)
Beliefs (what can be done, what should be done)
Fears (collaborator could feel that you could get their promotion, finding, etc.)
Values (i.e. differences between boss wanting to get the job done and worker valuing family time)

So what?
Who are they?
What are their interests?

People that don’t like you
People that don’t care what you do

Included an audience interactions section with one of two questions:

Q1 – you’re the president of TM

Q2 – you’re the project team leader at work

Question: How will you apply “LFTM thinking” to enable your success?

For my little group, we discussed communication and how we would manage that process, including using skills we have learned in Toastmasters.

Chris is a interesting and dynamic speaker who I think really reached this audience. There was good interaction and entertaining stories. And of course, I always like to hear from a successful military leader who has mad the transition to successful business leader and successful Toastmaster leader.

His site is http://www.generallyspeaking.ca

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