Maybe a strange choice of words, but recently my company, MGM Resorts International, conducted a Leadership Summit. It was a one-day session with a mix of service standards rollout and leadership lessons. We had already conducted some sessions at our regional properties (and still have some to go), but over three days in Las Vegas we gave the experience to about 6,000 supervisors, managers, directors and vice-presidents. And I saw beauty everywhere I looked.
I was one of many leader-facilitators, your first hint that this was a good training because we asked the leaders of operating divisions and properties to lead the sessions. Nothing is more powerful for learning than hearing from your leaders, something I learned from my days in public accounting. I got to chat with some of my peers and those more senior and junior in me, conversations I wouldn’t normally have. We sometimes looked funny trying to do our best leadership coach impersonations, but we were a thing of beauty all dressed in the same blue shirts making a collective mural of expertise and energy pouring into the leaders of MGM.
I saw a Human Resources team that rallied together to make the training come to life. Having been a part of delivering large scale trainings, and of creating leadership development programs, I know how hard it is. And our HR team has been through a lot of change, angst and major projects in the last few years. Yet here they were, having already toiled for months just to create the materials, leading alongside of us, laughing and smiling more than anyone. A warrior spirit had glued them together, they never showed their weariness or their stress and anxiety, they gave us the confidence we needed to be our best. Truly a beautiful symphony of passionate professionals, and they pulled it off big time.
I saw future leaders, engaged with each other, telling stories and offering advice to “strangers” – many of them not knowing how much leadership potential is inside of them or the amazing leadership journey they will be on for years to come. I saw tears, laughter, praise; I learned new ideas in every session; nuggets like “It’s harder to let go than to hang on” when talking about learning how to delegate; or “sometimes it’s just enough to listen, to let them know you heard them” when addressing an employee’s concerns. There is beauty in leadership not yet fully formed, watching it blossom.
Often when I have an experience like this, I actually miss it the next day at “regular” work. And today was similar, I definitely did not have the same energy, but the lessons I learned from those around me were fresh, and I made sure I was present in the office, smiled and said hi to everyone, and kept a positive presence. And lucky for me, my last meeting of the day was with two up and coming professionals who I am privileged to lead, and they were ready to take on the world and make a huge difference in our team – just the energy I needed to see, reminding me of the beauty of being a leader, in all of its quirks and trials and tribulations. It is something we as leaders should be incredibly grateful that we get the privilege to do.