Part 2 – Treetop Time
How do you grow as a leader? What character qualities do you hope to emulate? We all have the aspiration to improve but sometimes we struggle breaking it down into manageable steps towards real change. In my last blog I discussed the need to develop an organizational leadership model to give you and your team a unifying starting point. This blog is Part 2 in the leadership series and will focus on how to incorporate Treetop Time to help grow your character as a leader. If you missed Part 1 you can find it here.
It takes time and energy to become the best leader you can be. To cultivate your development, consider this simple yet profound exercise. At DISHER, we call it the practice of Treetop Time. Not only can it be used for leadership and character development but long-term planning and strategic thinking as well. The concept might appear a bit lofty, but I can assure you that it’s not. It is a practical and fruitful habit. Here’s how it works.
The Process of Treetop Time for Individual Development
- Find a place where you can get away to spend uninterrupted time thinking and reflecting. This may sound intimidating to some of you who are constantly around people, technology, and stimulus. For others, it sounds like a huge blessing! The point is, schedule time once or twice a year. Camp out at a quiet coffee shop for several hours or unplug entirely and head for the mountains or a cottage by a lake. Whatever works for you! The key is that you are not answering your phone, you’re not multitasking, you’re not talking to family or friends— you’re by yourself.
- Research a few leaders you have admired and what made them great. Come prepared for your time alone with leadership resources that were either recommended or that you have recently read. Perhaps it is an excellent book, article, podcast, YouTube video, or blog. Bring what you have found most inspiring or motivating. Think about and study these leaders. Pick one or two attributes or skills from these leaders that you want to emulate.
- Journal about the traits you admire most in this leader(s). Summarize what you have listened to or read. What stood out to you about this leader? What character qualities, attitudes, and skills do you admire? What useful tips did they provide? What are their weaknesses? Write everything down that you found inspirational or thought provoking.
- Select the leadership characteristics you want to develop. From all of the ideas that you journaled about, pick the top one or two characteristics that you want to work on. Any more than this will likely be too difficult to manage because of the amount of time, effort, and practice required to develop the traits or skills selected.
- List action steps you plan to take to develop these specific leadership characteristics. How can you apply these skills or character qualities in your home, at work, and in your community? Write down real ways you can live these traits out in daily life. Identify an accountability partner to give you feedback and help you be successful. This is a difficult yet critical step in transitioning a great idea into practice.
- Implement the action steps. Finally, live out the characteristics you chose to work on. This, of course, is the hardest step. Change takes time, effort, and focus. It occurs over months and years— not days. It takes discipline to start something. It takes repetition to form a habit, and it takes positive habits to grow our character.
My Treetop Time Experience
I recently returned from a short sabbatical where I intentionally built-in Treetop Time. I had the pleasure of spending time in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Ashville, North Carolina at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. I had read or listened to a few books prior to my Treetop Time including:
1. The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews
2. 7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
3. Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
These books include many meaningful themes and examples of how to learn and grow. I chose to focus on the character traits of empathy and humility to develop further in my own thoughts and actions as a leader. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, while humility is a quality that puts others first or lets us go more than halfway to meet the needs of others. I am committed to practicing these character qualities. It takes self-discipline to develop leadership characteristics. It requires repetition and practice to form a positive habit. But in time, the new habit will develop character and real change will occur.
When will you schedule your first or your next Treetop getaway? Make it a priority at least once a year. Spend time reflecting, thinking, and taking action! And please let me know how it goes— I would love to hear your story.
The DISHER Business Solutions team offers a variety of organizational and leadership development tools that can significantly impact your team’s performance. If you or your team would like to learn more, please contact us.
Written By: Bob Soeters, Business Lead – Corporate Officer
Bob Soeters possesses over 30 years of industry experience, working in a variety of roles ranging from manufacturing supervision to strategic planning. He leads several of DISHER’s multi-disciplined engineering teams, leads the corporate growth strategy, and oversees the Finance area. He is also responsible for internal Leadership Development and offers external Leadership Consulting. Bob has been influential in DISHER’s healthy growth, responsible for transformative increases in the organization’s capacity and capabilities.