Back in 2010 I organized a local Chick-fil-A Leadercast as a way to help teach and grow leaders in our local community of Turlock, CA.
The event went very well, and similar to most events I coordinate, I took some time after the event to debrief and think about what I learned from the event. Below are five things I learned specifically from coordinating the event and organizing it. None of them were clearly taught during the event by the speakers, they were lessons learned on the fly while trying to pull off this event.
5 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM COORDINATING THE CHICK-FIL-A LEADERCAST
- Prioritize: There were so many different ideas and things that came to mind when planning out the event that we had to prioritize which things we would spend our time on. We simply would look at ideas which would give us the highest payoff for the benefit of the attendees and for the benefit of the profit/loss statement we would face after the event was over. Ideas such as having books for sale at the event was a high priority in order to serve the attendees at the event. Having the more preferred Starbucks coffee at the event instead of less preferred Folgers coffee was less of a priority because the important thing was that we have coffee for the people who liked it, not necessarily to give them the best coffee they ever had tasted.
- Plan Early and Prepare Well: One thing I have learned as someone who leads and organizes events is that if I plan early and prepare well it is easier for others to help me. It is the times when I wait until the last minute to plan something or I don’t adequately take time to think about what I want us to do that it causes me to end up being the one doing the work and implementing the idea because I was not prepared early enough to equip someone else to do it. For example, with the Leadercast event, if I have prepared early and prepared well in advance, I can easily delegate tasks such as shopping for food and printing flyers if, and only if, I have prepared those items before they need to actually be done. If they are done early it is easy to ask someone else to do that actual work and to equip them with what they need in order to get the job done. And, one thing that helps the planning to go well is to involve others. As John Maxwell says, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” When I involve others in my thinking and planning it helps the planning to go better because they think of small details I might have missed or overlooked. One thing I know for sure from experience is that when you plan early and prepare well, execution is much easier.
- Build a Team: From my experience I believe there are three reasons to build a team. 1) A team allows you to do what you do best so you can focus your time and energy where it can best be used. 2) A team lightens your work load which allows you to rest, feel relaxed, and thus perform better. 3) A team compliments your weaknesses because it allows others to work in the areas you are weak, which hopefully is the areas which they are strong in. Building a team for the Leadercast allowed me to focus on the most important thing during the day of the event which was networking with attendees and thanking the sponsors. If I am busy making coffee, preparing lunch, and doing IT work on the video feed it, wouldn’t allow me to network with attendees and sponsors to make sure they are having a good time.
- Communicate Well and Often: Of all of the things I learned from leading the Chick-fil-A Leaderscast, I think I am the most passionate about this one. When working with others, how many times have you heard someone say, “We need to communicate better” or, “We don’t communicate.” It is frustrating when working with a team that does not communicate well because it hinders productivity and ultimately does not allow the team to accomplish its potential. When I lead, I work very hard to overly communicate. One thing I have learned from Andy Stanley is that if you think you are communicating to your team enough, you probably need to communicate just a little more. And that’s what I do. I communicate regularly and often, I even communicate to the point that people start to call me “Captain Obvious” because I have already told them what I told them which means that I am telling them what they already know. But, in my mind, it is important to make sure we are all on the same page. Even if someone already knows something and I know something, I believe it is important to still say it so we both know that we know. (If ya know what I mean!)
- Assign People Responsibility for Areas: When I led the Leadercast I worked hard to make things simple by placing specific people in charge of small specific areas. For example, I placed one person in charge of the IT video feed which was sent in via internet, another person I put in charge of being the MC for the event, another person I placed in charge of the books and products table, and another person I put in charge of coffee and snacks. When people are placed in small areas such as this and they are given both the responsibility and authority to do what they need to do, it makes things easier. And, hopefully, it ensures that no one else will be meddling with their work. We all were working as a team for the goal of producing the event, but we each had our own areas in which we were responsible to perform well.