I am in Las Vegas for a couple days attending a conference. I do not visit Las Vegas very often, so it is always eye-catching to see the magnificence of the architecture and how technology seeps from every crevice of the city, especially in contrast to what many of the buildings represent. The day in the conference center was filled with lots of great content. I was a little slow leaving after it ended, from talking to people and answering some emails.
To exit the conference center to get to the hotel entrance one must walk a long corridor that leads into the middle of the Casino. As I walked out of the corridor and made my way to the entrance I witnessed many of my colleagues attending to the festivities of the Casino. Some of the same individuals that were calm, focused, and studious during the conference, were now zombies in front of a slot-machine. Some were already partying, drinking and gawking at the dancing girls overhead. As I looked at this, a thought popped into my head. The thought was, “Are you a leader, when no one is watching?”
I am not making a statement about those activities. I believe everyone has the freedom to do what they want, within reason. I do believe that too much of anything can be bad. In Las Vegas like many other cities, especially for a traveling businessman, it can be easy to get “lost”. There are infinite places that one could go to and no one would probably ever know. If what I was seeing was occurring only 30 minutes after the conference, I wondered what was in store for later in the night. I also wondered what colleagues had disappeared and gotten “lost”.
I thought about what a leader is and the thought popped into my mind, being a manager is a job, being a leader is a calling. I know people who have been fired for activities at conferences. I know colleagues who lost some respect because of their lack of control at conferences. I have avoided purchasing from certain vendors and partnering with certain companies, because of what I have seen at late night activities. But what about numero uno, you? Are you ok with entering into a dimly lit area and participating in activities that you would not want your significant other to see? Or in activities you woudl not want your staff see?
As the night continued, I went and had sushi with a group of colleagues and vendors. Yes they were drinking, but they were in control (well most were 🙂 ). We had a lot of fun and I learned from my colleagues and built deeper relationships. I am not sure what happened after I left, but I am glad to know that there were others that exhibited control.
Those leadership lists that I hate so much came to mind and I thought that maybe they could be used in this situation. It is the concepts of values and priorities in life. I think they should apply all the time, not only when you chose. If you value trust in your company, I think it would serve well to ask if the activity you are about to participate in will create or destroy trust in others.
In the morning, as the first keynote speech started at 7:15 am, I looked around and beheld that the room was barely 1/4th full. In fact I could have probably stood up and counted everyone in a few minutes. The sea of empty chairs seemed to be a sign of the previous night’s activities
Remember being a manager is a job, being a leader is a calling.